My miracle and ending modern slavery

Chiang’s class at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex.

By Mina Chiang, Rotary Global Grant Scholar to University of Sussex, 2017-18

I will never forget the miracle that changed my life. I call it a miracle because the sheer chance of it happening is close to zero.

I was living in Bagamoyo, Tanzania, at the time supporting the establishment of a new science university for a local Catholic church. There was a small museum next to the university that tells the story of the town’s role as a major port and central hub during the slave trade centuries ago. I have always had a passion for helping the vulnerable and deprived, and had secured master’s degree offers from some of the best International Development programs in the world. But my family and I lacked the resources for me to pursue an advanced degree. Continue reading

Bearing witness to 75th anniversary of atomic bombings

Atomic bomb survivor Michiaki Ikeda speaks during the webinar “Bearing Witness from Nagasaki”

By Jaclyn McAlester, Rotary Peace Fellow at International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan

I grew up in New Mexico, USA. I doubt most people think of nuclear testing when they think of New Mexico, but that’s exactly where testing of nuclear devices of the same design as the atomic bombs detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki took place. The testing was conducted on 16 July, 1945. Less than one month later, atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima on 6 August and Nagasaki on 9 August. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the first and only time nuclear weapons of such magnitude have been used in armed conflict. Continue reading

Virtual Rotary Choir keeps the music going

Members of the IFRM Virtual Rotary World Choir during a recent online concert.

By Bonnie F. Sirower, past district governor of District 7490 (New Jersey, USA) 

A lot of Rotary members are not aware of the opportunities they have to dramatically increase their friendships and connections through a Rotary Fellowship.

I first joined the International Fellowship of Rotarian Musicians (IFRM) at the 2005 Rotary International Convention in Chicago. I was drawn to their booth in the House of Friendship by the number of people having fun singing to the accompaniment of a pianist. I joined the fellowship right then and there and for several years, participated in the Rotary World Choir at conventions during the Interfaith Service on Sunday mornings. What a beautiful way to be together – making gorgeous music with people who had previously been strangers. Continue reading

Month by month, pillar by pillar: Engaging my club in Positive Peace

KC Williams

By KC Williams, president, Rotary Club of Maryville, Tennessee, USA

I absolutely love being a member of Rotary. My Rotary membership experiences both in the United States and in the Caribbean over the past 15 years have created a lasting impact on my life choices and experiences. So, it is not lightly that I admit that I have successfully avoided serving as president of a Rotary club until now and, as usual, my timing is impeccable. Continue reading

Peacebuilding during a time of upheaval

Global Cyber Peace Conference

A delegation of 30 Papua New Guinea participants funded by the Evangelical Lutheran Church take part in the Global Cyber Peace Conference.

Elaine Pratley

Elaine Pratley

By Elaine Pratley, Rotary Peace Fellow

This has not been an easy year. I attended my first virtual funeral because of local lockdowns due to COVID-19. Friends have lost jobs and loved ones, and the news about the global recession remains bleak. And to think that it was only three months ago when I thought the Australian bushfires were the biggest disaster to hit us this year! I feel the word “upheaval” would be an understatement, but I cannot think of a better word.

As a peacebuilder, conflict is at the core of my business. Peacebuilders do not consider conflict as inherently bad but recognize its potential for growth and positive change. Continue reading

Promoting peace on the Pakistan-India border

Rotary members at Kartarpur Sahib

In March, members of Rotary, Rotaract, and Interact from both Pakistan and India gathered together at Kartarpar Sabib a shrine holy to Sikhs.

By Sajid Pervaiz, past governor of District 3272, member of the Rotary Club of Ruryila, Pakistan

In March, members of Rotary, Rotaract, and Interact from both Pakistan and India gathered together at a holy shrine on the border for an afternoon of food, fun, and fellowship. It was a small, but significant step toward building peace between our two countries. Continue reading

Peace is an inside-out job

Lindsay Griswold participates in a dance as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya in 2006.

Lindsay Griswold as a Peace Corps volunteer in 2006.

By Lindsay Griswold, Senior Specialist for Youth Exchange and Youth Protection
I grew up in a home that was not peaceful. So, I think peace is something I have always unconsciously sought, in my life, work, hobbies, and other interests. The summer after I graduated from university, I joined the United States Peace Corps, and served as a Deaf Education Volunteer in Kenya. This experience changed me in too many ways to count, but the traits I gained then that I still value now are patience, flexibility, and resilience.

Continue reading

Finding common ground during the pandemic

Kiran Sirah Singh at the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee, USA.

By Kiran Singh Sirah, a 2011-13 Rotary Peace Fellow and president of the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee, USA

I’ve been having lots of inspiring conversations with my fellow Rotarians recently. As a Rotary Peace Fellow, I’ve found it so helpful to connect and brainstorm with my colleagues from the program. I think many of us individually and institutionally have had our thoughts crowded out by our focus on survival early in this crisis.

The question marks we all face remain overwhelming. But as we have talked with one another, it has shifted our attention on collaboration and supporting one another. We’ve been focusing on how we can help not just ourselves and each other in our own personal and professional circles, but also make a difference in the wider world. Continue reading

Honoring the mothers behind our Peace Fellows

Lea Yague leads an activity with the newly formed Rotary Club of Solana Moonlight.

Erika Isabel Yague

By Erika Isabel Yague, Rotary Peace Fellow at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

As Rotary Peace Fellows, we find inspiration when we take time to remember and recognize the people who support and motivate us in our work of pursuing a sustainable peace. For me, the principal person is my mom, the first woman that inspired me to live life in a way that would give back to the community. And given that May is the month of Mother’s Day, I felt it doubly fitting to talk about my mom as we honor the amazing mothers or mother figures we have in our lives. Continue reading

Prevent gender based violence

Elsa Marie D’Silva, 2016 Rotary Peace Fellow.

By Elsa Marie D’Silva, Rotary Peace Fellow alumna, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

During the lockdown enforced due to COVID-19, I have been reaching out to all my friends to see how they are doing. The other day I happened to call one of my girl friends who I know has been in an abusive relationship to find out if she was fine. She answered my call and we exchanged pleasantries. In the midst of the conversation she suddenly went quiet and then started to talk in riddles. I immediately sensed that all was not right and asked her if her partner was around. She could not even answer with a “yes” or “no” and so I quickly reassured her that I understood her situation and we could communicate further on WhatsApp. Continue reading