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

Embracing a new Rotary

Editor’s note: The pandemic has challenged the way our clubs operate, but it has also presented some opportunities. A Rotaract club shares lessons they have learned from virtual meetings.

Kennedy Gayah

By Kennedy Gayah, Rotaract Club of Nairobi Central, Kenya

Members of Rotary and Rotaract enjoy the comfort, love, and unity they experience during a club meeting, whether it be sharing a meal, enjoying a drink, or chatting with friends who have become like family. Our in-person meetings have been a principle means of connection. But COVID-19 has changed all that. We have been forced to be innovative, creative, and flexible to recreate the camaraderie of our clubs. This is a blessing in disguise. Continue reading

Touching lives in Lagos

Rotary members Omolara Omotosho and Bolatito Olaboye deliver food in Lagos, Nigeria.

By Michael Effiong, Rotary Club of Ikeja South, Lagos, Nigeria

All around the world, the coronavirus pandemic is changing our lives and creating a new normal. But our members have seen the need and risen to the challenge. Now, more than ever, we need to show Rotary’s goodness as we practice Service Above Self.

Long before a nation-wide lockdown in Nigeria, Lagos had initiated its own stiff measures to stop the spread of the virus. This meant that our usually engaging meetings had to move online. The platform we decided to use was Zoom, and it has been our playground, a place where we share ideas and make plans to help our community. Continue reading

Holding a changeover ceremony virtually

Stephen Sennett

By Stephen Sennett, secretary-elect, Rotary E-Club of Melbourne, Australia

The end of the Rotary year is fast approaching. And with that, clubs are beginning to think about their traditional changeover ceremonies. Like many things in the world after the COVID-19 pandemic, having these in person isn’t an option. Clubs are asking, should we postpone or cancel? I want to pose another question, why not adapt and hold one virtually? Continue reading

Finding opportunity in adversity

The Knox Art Show went ahead as planned, only entirely online.

By Rajeev Wadhwa, President, Rotary Club of Rowville-Lysterfield, Melbourne, Australia

When social distancing rules took effect in our area, we shifted to virtual meetings without missing a single meeting. We knew we needed to keep club members engaged and happy in these uncertain times. So even though some of our planned events could not proceed, we knew one event was just too important to let go. 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

Using science of resilience to strengthen Rotary clubs during COVID-19

Jenny Stotts

By Jenny Stotts, District 6690 membership chair

Resilience is the process of adapting in the face of adversity. When we experience a traumatic or stressful event, our brains activate a number of pathways to protect us. These biological processes help keep us safe. It’s in the recovery from these events that we grow and change and become stronger.

Many of us are living this reality right now in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The good news is, there are ways to grow our capacity for resiliency. And we can use this time to strengthen Rotary, by working together to grow and foster resilience in our fellow members and our clubs. Here are a few tips: Continue reading

Rotaractor’s app separates pandemic fact from fiction

Members of the Rotaract Club of Dehli Rajdhani test features of the app, designed to provide users with reliable information through a computer-simulated chat.

By Uday Nanda, past president Rotaract Club of Dehli Rajdhani, New Dehli, India

As a social entrepreneur in New Dehli, India, I have been watching the overload of information coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. It can be hard to sort out good information from bad. People have been misled by false news and inaccurate claims. As a member of Rotaract who has received recognition as a product designer in the fields of education and technology, I wanted to do something to help people sort fact from fiction.

With the support of my Rotaract club, I set out to design a Chatbot that could answer people’s questions about the pandemic. A Chabot is a software application that simulates an online text conversation with a live person. You can ask questions and receive information as if you are chatting with a real person, only via artificial intelligence. 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

How to support Rotary Youth Exchange students during the pandemic

By Rotary International’s Youth Exchange and Youth Protection staff

As the world faces extraordinary challenges amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Rotary Youth Exchange students worldwide are facing unique challenges of their own. Rotary International has been working in tandem with Youth Exchange club and district leaders to ensure that the health and safety of students remains the priority whether in their host country or returning  home. Continue reading