Jubilee celebrates a year of mercy, unity

Rotary members at the Vatican for the Jubilee.

Thousands of Rotary members gathered at the Vatican in Rome to celebrate a message of compassion, inclusiveness, and service to humanity.

By Elizabeth Celi, Rotary Club of Rome International

The audience at the Papal Jubilee, though buzzing with excitement, excuded serenity. Despite a sea of thousands of people right behind us in St Peter’s Square, I sensed a palpable feeling of tranquillity. We were positioned up close to Pope Francis’ outdoor podium with the sun shining and the soothing sound of water surging through two magnificent stone fountains on either side of us.

As a member of Rotary for eight years in Melbourne, Australia, and now in the Rotary Club of Rome International, I was delighted to attend this event which focused on stories of extending a hand to Continue reading

Alumni of three Rotary programs unite to advance ‘Service Above Self’

The three Rotary alumni and DSLI Global participants at the Zero Baht Shop Community, a domestic migrant community that has developed a recycling program that funds community insurance and social support programs.

The three Rotary alumni and DSIL Global participants at the Zero Baht Shop, a domestic migrant community that has developed a recycling program that funds insurance and social support programs for the community.

By Courtney Lawrence, Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar 2009-10; Katherine Grennier, Rotary Peace Fellow 2016; and Hermes Huang, Rotary Scholar, 2014-15

From the coastline of Costa Rica, to the sidewalks of Bangkok, to the jungles of Indonesia, we have been supported as individuals by The Rotary Foundation to make this world a better place; one where service comes before self. As a team of Rotary alumni, we have been able to pull together in pursuit of empowering grassroots social innovators around the world. Continue reading

Opening doors in Cuba

Jeri Fujimoto with Oragami book

Jeri Fujimoto, governor-elect of District 5150, displays some of the gifts delivered by the team of Rotary members.

By Jon Kaufman, director of H2OpenDoors

Along with 40 friends and supporters of the H2OpenDoors project, I took part in an eight-day exploratory expedition to Cuba on 8 April.

Members of six Rotary clubs in District 5150 and their friends and family joined The Bay Area Cuba Community Alliance, starting on the far eastern side of the island for a visit and site survey at a small village in Granma province. Each person presented a suitcase of donations to the Town Delegate in an emotional ceremony. Continue reading

How Rotary creates lifelong friendships

Kate Kimmer and Hilary Caldis.

Kate Kimmer and Hilary Caldis.

By Hilary J. Caldis, Rotary Peace Fellow

I am constantly in awe of the power of connection. This is what Rotary is all about. We unite in friendship to realize truthful, fair, good-willed, and beneficial outcomes in our communities and the world. For Rotary members and people like me, our lives are forever transformed by this powerful network. Continue reading

Seaside sessions on leadership and peace in Sri Lanka

The team of Leadership Retreat Peace Fellows

The team of Leadership Retreat Peace Fellows

By Lucas Wolf (and the team of Leadership Retreat Peace Fellows)

On the southern coast of Sri Lanka, there is a special place just north of Galle where the waves crash over the rocks after their long journey across the Indian Ocean.

The rains arrive in the early evening to inundate the verdant, tropical lands. This was the setting for the second Rotary Peace Fellow Leadership Retreat from 7-9 March, attended by 10 former Rotary Peace Fellows and one gifted facilitator from Northern Ireland, Susan McEwen. We arrived from all corners of the globe, including Juba, Mindanao, Nicaragua, Somaliland, Kurdistan, London, Ottawa, Nigeria, and Sri Lanka itself. Continue reading

Building my kizuna with Rotary and Japan

Flanigan and ICU students

Mark Flanigan (back row third from right) with Ambassador Motohide Yoshikawa during a program for ICU students in New York City in July.

By Mark Flanigan, Program Director, Japan ICU Foundation, and a 2010-12 Rotary Peace Fellow at ICU, Tokyo

When I arrived at International Christian University (ICU) in Tokyo as a new Rotary Peace Fellow in the summer of 2010, I had no idea it would be the beginning of an ongoing relationship with both the University and Rotary.

I had lived in Japan before through the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program and as a U.S. Army veteran, and was happy to return almost a decade later, thanks to Rotary. Continue reading

Rotary Peace Fellows poised to change the world

Peace Fellows at the 2015 Rotary Convention in São Paulo, Brazil.

Peace Fellows at the 2015 Rotary Convention in São Paulo, Brazil.

By Teree Bergman

When I was an undergraduate, one of my professors expressed the interesting idea that scholars should stop studying the causes of war. He suggested that conflicts occur all the time and that the natural state is war. He proposed that we should be studying the causes of peace, as that is the less common situation. Continue reading

Creating peace in Myanmar

Rachel Hall Beecroft with local Myanmar youth

Rachel Hall Beecroft with local youth on a field visit to Hpa-An, Karen State.

By Rachel Hall Beecroft, Rotary Peace Fellow at the University of Queensland, Australia

I looked around me at the faces of these change makers and felt overwhelmed by happiness, power, and positivity. These everyday people were coming together for a shared cause — peace. They were giving up aspects of their life to become something greater than themselves alone. They were contributing, they were committing, and most importantly, they were changing the world around them. Continue reading

Rotary Peace Fellows unite in Oslo

Rotary Peace Fellows in Oslo

Rotary Peace Fellows in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Oslo, Norway.

By Lucienne Heyworth, a Rotary Peace Fellow at Uppsala, and Yuko Maeno, a Peace Fellow at University of Bradford

This year has been a momentous one for Rotary Peace Fellows at the Bradford and Uppsala Peace Centers. For the first time, 18 peace fellows met in the beautiful city of Oslo, Norway, for a three day program in January including action packed and ‘peace centered’ information and entertainment that left us enlightened. The purpose of this trip was to develop further collaboration between the two peace centers and to learn about Norway’s peace-building efforts. Continue reading

Peace is possible: lessons from war-torn Bosnia

Bridge over Neretva River

The restored bridge over the Neretva River in Mostar, a symbol of peace in Bosnia.

By Anton Polsterer, past governor of District 1910 and past chair of the Intercountry Committees Executive Council 

I joined Rotary in Vienna in 1986 and transferred to the Rotary Club of Moscow while working in Russia from 1989-92. After moving back to Austria, I became governor of the district covering Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia, and Austria. After years of war and totalitarian government rule, these communities longed for freedom and peace. Continue reading