By Edward Hicks, a member of the Rotary Club of Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA
I first became acquainted with The Rotary Foundation and its Fellowship for Undergraduate Study Abroad in 1970, as a sophomore at the University of Oklahoma. My faculty adviser suggested I apply for the fellowship. Little did I imagine how much it would change my life. I used the fellowship to study Economics at the University of Melbourne in Australia during the 1971 academic term.
By Suzanne Gibson, 2019-20 governor of Rotary District 6440 and a member of the Rotary Club of Barrington Breakfast, Barrington, Illinois
While planning a youth assembly in the fall of 2017, Rotary leaders in my district were looking for a fresh way to connect young people with the story of polio. Their generation is largely unfamiliar with this disease because it has not been endemic in our part of the world for decades. They have little memory, aside from photos in history books, of polio scares and children in iron lungs.
We wanted to explain how Rotary has been working to deliver on the vision of a polio-free world and why. We have reduced the number of cases of polio by 99.9 percent since 1988. But still, as long as polio exists anywhere, it remains a threat. There is no cure, only prevention, through vaccines.
By Maiden R. Manzanal-Frank, 2015 Rotary Peace Fellow at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
The Rotary Peace Centers Program has truly transformed my life. After receiving a peace fellowship in 2015, my commitment to peace, human security, and development deepened further.
In my current role as a global impact advisor, I help organizations become more robust, sustainable, and effective in their missions. I draw upon two decades of work with social enterprises, rural women, cooperatives, home-based workers, farmers, artisans, health advocates, and local changemakers. Being based in Canada, I have made contact with all the Rotary clubs in Central Alberta, Edmonton, and Calgary (which I can reach within a few hours), regularly offering support and advice. I share my experiences as a Rotary Peace Fellow and promote the program every year.
By Jong-Geun Lee, District 3730 PolioPlus subcommittee chair and member of the Rotary Club of Wonju, Korea
I was born in a rural village in southern Korea the year after the Korean War ended. I contracted polio when I was 9 months old. I had a fever for several days and both my legs became paralyzed. My parents were teachers but had little knowledge of polio, so they relied on superstition and prayer to confront my illness. It wasn’t until I was two years old that I was finally diagnosed with polio.
I needed crutches to walk but was a cheerful and active child with many friends in the village. My younger brother carried my bag to school and back. If my classroom was not on the ground floor, my fellow students would carry me up the steps on their backs. At the time, we lived in a rented house on a hill near the school. My friends would carry me home. Even with all this help, I would fall often when my walking device became loose or the crutches caught on something, so I devoted myself to studying.
Sometimes I catch myself admiring my daughter as she reads a book at bedtime or does her math homework. These are skills we have come to expect from a child at her age. However, my memories as a young girl living with a disability from polio in Somalia are quite different.
I remember every morning I would wake at the peak of dawn, brush my teeth, comb my hair and change for the day. I then would sit outside our front door and watch as children from my neighborhood walk to school with their thermos full of water and school bags on their backs. I would wave to them with a smile but internally I was crushed.