Summit in California unites young professionals

Participants in the young professional summit held in Berkeley, California, USA.

Participants in the young professional summit held in Berkeley, California, USA.

By Katie Coard

This summer in Berkeley, California, I joined a group of Rotary young professionals and district leaders from the western United States and Canada at a summit to discuss the future of Rotary. Reflecting one of Rotary’s strengths, this event brought together many diverse perspectives to focus on what younger Rotarians are looking for in Rotary.

I’ve been a part of the Rotary family since joining Rotaract in 2010, and it has changed my life in many ways. I am a founder and co-president of a provisional Rotary club in my hometown of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Rotary taught me how to lead, engage, and manage groups of people, projects, and events. These are skills I use in my daily work. Continue reading

Little Rotary moments that transformed my life

Heidi Resetaritis at a 5K walk/run to promote health and fitness and raise money for PolioPlus.

Heidi Resetarits at a 5K walk/run that raised money for PolioPlus.

By Heidi Resetarits

Little moments of connectivity in life — who you talk to, who you share with — can completely change your trajectory. A few years ago at a holiday work party, I met my friend and future mentor, Ann Tull. The party was dull, but our conversation sparked a little light in me that transformed my life.

Ann introduced me to Rotary, and eventually encouraged me to apply for an Ambassadorial Scholarship. I realized that working toward higher education and a future that revolved around Service Above Self was what I was looking for. A year later and I was on my way to the United Nations University for Peace in Ciudad Colon, Costa Rica, as an Ambassadorial Scholar from Rotary District 5450. Continue reading

Building connections with young professionals

Bobby Keith, a member of the Rotary Club of Birmingham, Alabama, chats with David Knight, a member of the Rotaract Club of Birmingham, during a recent meeting.

Bobby Keith, a member of the Rotary Club of Birmingham, Alabama, chats with Rotaractor David Knight during a recent meeting.

By Jeris Gaston, Rotaract Club of Birmingham, Alabama, USA

At the recent Rotary International Convention in São Paulo, Brazil, there were several breakout sessions geared toward the next generation of Rotarians. The one that stood out the most for me was “thirtysomething: How Clubs/Districts Can Provide Rotary Experiences for Young Professionals,” moderated by John Smola, a past president of my club, and Christa Papavasiliou, of the Rotaract Club of Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Continue reading

Building community and developing leaders at a unique changeover event

Rotary Youth Leadership Awards participants take part in an outdoor challenge course designed to teach leadership and problem-solving. Photo courtesy District 7780

Rotary Youth Leadership Awards participants take part in an outdoor challenge course designed to teach leadership and problem-solving. Photo courtesy District 7780

By Sheila Rollins, governor of District 7780, parts of Maine and New Hampshire, USA

Changeover ceremonies, in which Rotary leaders transition to their new positions, are often formal events. I knew I wanted our district’s ceremony to be different. I wanted an event that would positively reflect the ideals of Rotary, that would be family-oriented and cost-conscious, and that would not take place in a hotel ballroom. I considered combining the district changeover with a service project, but I decided to create something even more unique: I planned the changeover to coincide with our annual Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA). Continue reading

The Rotary Youth Exchange I dreamed about

Thando Gwatyu shares the South African flag with his host family in Germany.

Thando Gwatyu shares the South African flag with his host family in Germany.

By Thando Gwatyu, a Rotary Youth Exchange student from South Africa to Germany

Recently, I finished my third month in Germany, and it’s already changing my life. The process has not always been easy, but I’ve made quite a few discoveries about German culture and tradition, some of which is very different from the life I’m used to.

My first host family, the Roos, were simply amazing. Both parents are architects and they have a 16-year-old daughter and an 18-year-old son. The parents were eager to show me many things about their country Continue reading

Rotary exchange inspires children’s books about animals

Rachel Shaw with Rotary members at the launch of her book in Manila.

Rachel Shaw (middle, first row) with Rotary members at a book launch in Manila.

By Rachel Shaw, honorary member of the Rotary Club of West Bay, Laguna, Philippines.

Six years ago, I visited the Philippines as part of a Group Study Exchange team from Rotary District 1270 (Lincolnshire, England).The opportunity to visit one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots as a professional wildlife conservationist became for me the start of a new writing and illustrating adventure.

Glimpsing just a little of the amazing diversity of animals sparked my imagination. Continue reading

Is your club fun?

The San Francisco Evening club makes their presence known during a recent district assembly.

The San Francisco Evening club makes its presence known during a recent district assembly.

By Danielle Lallement, past president of the Rotary Club of San Francisco Evening

Walking into our district assembly recently, I looked up and saw fellow club members at the top of the bleachers in crazy wigs and big funky glasses, passing out noisemakers.  When our president-elect, Ehlan Siddiqi, crossed the stage to receive his pin and banner for his presidential year, we raised the roof with our noisemakers and cheers.

This is just one example of the fun and energy that we are trying to create in our district. Our club may have unconventional ideas, but we are bringing  more life and vitality to the organization. Continue reading

The benefits of Rotary: friends wherever you go

150209_burrellBy Evan Burrell, Rotary Club of Turramurra, New South Wales, Australia, and a former member of Rotaract

It’s nice to have connections in a foreign country. That’s what makes Rotary International so, um, international! Whether you’re travelling for work, or for leisure, you can visit a Rotary club almost anywhere you go. And one of the benefits of being a Rotary member is that you are certain to make new friends, and find valuable local information to enhance your stay, while you are at it.

Need to know the best things to see during your stay? Where to eat? You might even find someone who has a room to rent for cheap. Continue reading

Rotaract members in Germany “Make it Happen”

Doris Grimm and two fellow Rotaract leaders.

Doris Grimm (middle) and two fellow Rotaract leaders.

By Doris Grimm, Rotaract representative District 1860 (Mannheim, Germany). This is the third in a series of blog posts about women making a difference in Rotary leading up to International Women’s Day 8 March.

In Germany, International Women’s Day plays a rather subordinate role, even though two German women proposed the first women’s day in 1910. Nevertheless, I personally think that having an International Women’s Day, where we specifically look into gender equality and women’s rights, is an important observation we should not miss. In her speech at the UN headquarters in New York in September 2014, Emma Watson, ambassador of the UN-campaign “He for She” declared that up till now there is not a single country in the world which has achieved gender equality. Continue reading

Why we need to share Rotary’s good news

Nisha Kotecha

Nisha Kotecha

By Nisha Kotecha, president of the Rotaract Club of Hampstead, Hendon and Golders Green, England

I know a Rotary Club that has changed the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of young people over the years. I know this because I have attended some of their meetings. And because I am one of the lives they have changed.

The Rotary club I am referring to is one of the largest in London, so they don’t need to generate publicity around their activities. Or do they? Continue reading