My Rotary Youth Exchange year in Canada

2014-15 Rotary Youth Exchange students.

2014-15 Rotary Youth Exchange students.

By Gabriela Vessani

I spent a year in Canada as a Rotary Youth Exchange student, and I can’t believe how fast the year went by. On my flight back to Brazil a few months ago, I reflected on the experience, and had so many thoughts.

I remembered arriving with anxiety, and yes, even a little fear. The experience is never entirely what you expect and you can never totally prepare for it. I think that few students go in with a full understanding of how intense and Continue reading

Teaching and touching the future

RI Director Julia Phelps, back left, visits a classroom in the Philippines during a trip to rekindle connections with teachers who benefited from a vocational training team.

RI Director Julia Phelps, back left, visits a classroom in the Philippines taught by one of the teachers who benefited from the 2013 vocational training team.

By Julia Phelps

In May 2013, four science teachers from the Philippines were preparing to return home after a visit to the United States as part of a vocational training team (VTT). They’d spent 30 days observing classrooms, visiting science museums, meeting with policymakers, and making presentations to Rotary clubs in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Continue reading

How a summer day changed everything

Shirey speaking to her club

Andrea Shirey speaks to her Rotary Club about hosting an exchange student.

By Andrea Shirey

On a summer day at my weekly Rotary Club meeting, a simple yes changed everything. A series of events and conversations over several weeks had led a fellow Rotarian to ask me if our family would host an exchange student. Somehow, the word yes fell from my lips as my brain lagged behind just long enough to realize I was committed. Soon, the questions formed:

What if the student is weird? What if my kids don’t get along with her? What if she won’t eat anything I cook and she dislikes America because of me? The doubts were endless, the fears considerable.   Continue reading

5 reasons to give to The Rotary Foundation

Polio immunization activities in Ethiopia. Your generous giving supports our work to rid the world of polio.

Polio immunization in Ethiopia. Your generous giving supports our work to rid the world of polio.

By Rotary Voices staff

When you make a donation to The Rotary Foundation, you are helping Rotary members make a difference in the lives of millions of people around the world, by promoting peace, preventing disease, bolstering economic development, and providing clean water and sanitation.

Here are just a few ways your generosity is changing lives. Continue reading

Rotary Scholar urges alumni to stay connected

Kathleen Plaza's own This Close portrait

Kathleen Plaza’s own This Close portrait

By Kathleen Plaza, Rotary Scholar

I was born and raised in a rural barrio (neighborhood) in Mindanao, Philippines. I moved to Guam when I was about 18 years old. I became a member of the Rotaract Club of the Marianas in Guam when I was completing my undergrad degree in biology, and served as secretary in 2011-12 and as youth services director in 2012-13.

I moved to Hawaii in August 2015, and with a Rotary Scholarship funded by a global grant, began taking classes in public health, focused on disease prevention and treatment. I will finish my program in May 2017. Continue reading

The child squashed the ant and asked: ‘Is it still an animate object now?’

Students eagerly participate in a classroom where the teacher has received training.

Students eagerly participate in a classroom where the teacher has received training.

By Quentin Wodon

Do teacher training programs make a difference in how much students learn in the classroom? If the training programs are well implemented, they can.

Experience around the world suggests that teacher training programs are most effective when they (1) focus on changing teaching methods and practices and not Continue reading

Rotary Scholar runs for clean water

A team of walkers carry a ladder rigged up with water jugs to simulate the burden that women and children in some parts of the world must bear to fetch water.

A team of walkers carry a ladder rigged up with water jugs to simulate the burden that women and children in some parts of the world must bear to fetch water.

By Hai-Ryung Sung

Access to clean drinking water and proper sanitation should be a right for all people. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Many people still suffer and die from waterborne diseases they contract because of an inadequate supply of water, lack of sanitation, or poor hygiene. In many developing countries, women and children are forced to carry heavy bottles of water for many miles.

As a Rotary Scholar, I had the pleasure of taking part in the GlobalRun4Water recently in North Carolina, USA, raising awareness and money for water- and sanitation-related projects. My scholarship was funded by a global grant sponsored by Districts 3640 (Korea) and 7710 (North Carolina), my host district, which also organized the run. Scott Rossi, a member of the Cary-Kildaire Rotary Club, came up with the idea for the event, and has earned the affectionate nickname, the “Water Guy of District 7710.”  Continue reading

Success stories from a program to develop great teachers

Vicki Rankin used funding from the Rotary Club of Florence, Oregon, USA, to introduce small-group workstations in her classroom at Siuslaw Elementary School.

Vicki Rankin used funding from the Rotary Club of Florence, Oregon, USA, to introduce small-group workstations in her classroom at Siuslaw Elementary School.

By Meg Spencer

Many young professionals in Florence, Oregon, end up leaving when their children reach school age, seeking greener educational pastures for their kids. Our club began to think about how we could help our schools keep those bright young families around.

We came up with the idea of a Continuing Professional Education Fellowship program, modeled after a national teacher grant program we had seen, to help teachers pursue professional development.

Each year, our club offers two $2,000 fellowships to teachers and other Continue reading

Enriching education for our keiki (children)

Mike Curtis, a member of the Rotary Club of Poipu Beach, reads to students at Koloa Elementary School. Photo by Rotary Club of Poipu Beach

Mike Curtis, a member of the Rotary Club of Poipu Beach, reads to students at Koloa Elementary School.

By Michael Carlsson

As incoming president of our club, I wondered how we could have an even greater impact on the education of our local keiki (children).

We have been supporting Koloa Elementary School over the years with our Rotary Readers program and dictionary distribution to third graders. We have also provided funds and volunteers for the Continue reading

A simple idea benefits many in Mexico

Rotary members, students, and teachers in front of the water purification system in San Miguel.

Rotary members, students, and teachers in front of the water purification system in San Miguel.

By Jon Kaufman

From 2 to 8 July, I led my club’s second H2OpenDoors expedition to central Mexico. The three-year-old Rotary project provides SunSpring water purification systems for poor villages and schools and allows the villages to sell the surplus water from the systems.

The project touches on several of Rotary’s areas of focus: providing clean water, building peace (by combating poverty), and educating youth.

We bring along a dozen or so students, as well as a few teachers, so they can see how a simple idea can become a project and benefit thousands of people. We hope the students return to their schools empowered to make a difference. Continue reading