Simple ideas for creating international connections

Map of international student locations
An international student marks her home country on the map during a picnic organized by the Rotary Club of Lincoln, Nebraska, USA.

By Randy Bretz, Rotary Club of Lincoln, Nebraska, USA

If you think there’s not much your local Rotary club can do to foster international relations, think again. I have some ideas for you that are relatively simple and can help establish positive relations not just among individuals but entire countries.

My club is located in downtown Lincoln, Nebraska, home of the University of Nebraska. In fact, we have four universities and colleges in Lincoln. Each semester and often during the summer, these institutions host international scholars and students. Typically, people visiting or studying at a local institution are very interested in connecting with people in the community.

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How I found a sense of belonging in Rotary

Maricler Botelho de Oliveria, left, takes part in a program promoting Rotary in Brazil.
Maricler Botelho, right, takes part in a program promoting Rotary in Brazil. Maricler says the support and acceptance she has found in Rotary has given her a sense of belonging and demonstrates the organization’s commitment to inclusion.

By Maricler Botelho, a member of the Rotary Club of Marilia-Pioneiro, and assistant governor of District 4510

When I share my Rotary story, it is one of recognition, support, and acceptance. I believe it also tells the story of Rotary’s commitment to inclusion.

I was born in Tupi Paulista, in the countryside of São Paulo, and grew up in the northern part of the state of Mato Grosso, in the city of Juara. I come from a simple family that set a high value on respecting others. I had to move about 600 miles away from my town to pursue my desire to be a lawyer. I’m the first on my mother’s side of the family to get a college degree. Our socioeconomic status created real limitations, which is why I grew up accepting a feeling that I didn’t really belong. Then I was introduced to Rotary.

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Pioneering diversity and inclusion in Cupertino

Rotary Club of Cupertino
Members of the Rotary Club of Cupertino during a visit by 2021-22 District Governor Richard Flanders.

By Hung Wei, past president of the Rotary Club of Cupertino, California, USA, and District 5170 Governor-Nominee

When members in my district think of past district governor Don Allen, we remember a generous, kind, and intelligent person. This gentleman was a pioneer in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) by growing Rotary’s impact through encouraging Rotary clubs to reflect their community.

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Creating a welcoming club environment

Tom Gump at IA
Tom Gump addresses incoming leaders at the International Assembly in January.

By Tom Gump, past governor of District 5950, and a Member of Rotary International’s Membership Growth Committee

I love August because it is the time of year when Rotary looks seriously at the topic of membership. We are a membership organization and as such, we need members to grow and expand our impact. Service is the avenue by which we make a lasting impact in our communities and how we keep our members engaged.

There are at least three methods of strengthening membership. We can pour energy into attracting new members. We can focus on engaging existing members. And we can form new clubs that serve distinct needs and serve as a magnet for attracting still more members. At different times and places, our Rotary International presidents have focused on all of these aspects of membership.

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3 thoughts on attracting members and keeping them

By Abdulwahab B Akinlade, past president of the Rotaract Club of Ikorodu Golden, Lagos, Nigeria

Abdulwahab B. Akinlade
Abdulwahab B. Akinlade

Membership is the backbone of organizations like Rotary. My friend Musiliu Babatunde has a favorite song about Rotary, and it is called Wake Up Rotarians. It talks about the importance of membership to a club and how a club will become inactive and die if there are no members. The song prompted me to think about ways we can attract members. Here are a few thoughts:

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How to set your club on a good path for the new Rotary year

club training
Incoming club directors listen to training in advance of taking on roles to lead their club. Innovative sessions with case studies and inspired speakers can help a new board lead a club forward.

By Vivek Khandelwal, a former Group Study Exchange participant and member of the Rotary Club of Deonar, Mumbai, India

What makes one Rotary club vibrant and another one not? Sometimes, this is not always the easiest thing to understand. But I can vouch for the difference it makes during my own experience as a Rotary member for the past 12 years. And a lot of it stems from how effectively a club plans for and executes changeover in club leadership.

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5 interesting people I met at the 2022 Rotary Convention

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

A Rotary convention is a time to reflect upon the past year, look forward to the year ahead, and connect with friends, old and new, from around the globe. But it’s also a celebration of all things Rotary. The people gathered together are what make this event special. Being together again, in person, after a two-year hiatus made the 2022 Rotary International Convention in Houston even more sweet. A big part of convention is meeting people. So in that spirit, I want to introduce you to five interesting Rotarians I met in Houston:

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Rotaract and Rotary serving together

Ignacio Gonzales Mendez in front of One Rotary Center
Ignacio Gonzales Mendez in front of One Rotary Center during a meeting of the Elevate Rotaract Task Force in 2020

By Ignacio Gonzalez Mendez, a member of the Rotaract Club of Oriente de Talca, Chile

I must confess, I didn’t set out to find Rotary. Rotary found me. I became involved in Rotary through a series of fortunate events which has changed the way I look at everything.

When I was 13, I volunteered for the Red Cross and that experience led me years later to create a project to establish a first-aid station in my high school. At my graduation ceremony, I was surprised with an award from the local Rotary club for my volunteer work with the Red Cross. The award was in honor of one of my teachers, who passed away unexpectedly. Receiving the award and knowing that my teacher had appreciated my efforts gave me more inspiration to keep volunteering.

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Using our unique talents in Rotaract

Martinez Belo with friend
Maria Valentina Martinez Belo (left) poses with one of the models for the Project Rosa fashion show that benefits cancer patients.

By Maria Valentina Martinez Belo, Rotaract Club of Ing. Boris Walter, Venezuela

We all have different talents. It’s what makes each of us special and unique. I have always felt a strong desire to organize big events and use my creativity to help others and make them feel special. Through Rotaract, I have been able to do that, changing my life and those of the people I have been able to serve.

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Mobilizing volunteers through the power of Rotary

By Lisa Hunter, Rotary Club of Maidenhead Bridge, Berkshire, England

Lisa Hunter
Lisa Hunter

I am so proud to belong to an organization that empowers ordinary people to work together to make a difference in other people’s lives. Through the Rotary network, we come together to use our skills and knowledge to support each other and build up our communities.

Nowhere was this more apparent to me than at the beginning of the pandemic, when our community went into lockdown and people were isolated and shut in. My club formed a Community Response Team to mobilize a network of volunteers to do what we do best: support those who need help in difficult times.

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