Rotary scholar pursues his dream to visit every U.S. national park

Meyer at the Grand Canyon

Mikah Meyer at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Rotary has helped Meyer reach for his dreams, including visiting all 400 plus U.S. National Park sites in a single tour.

By Mikah Meyer, former Rotary Scholar

Growing up as a pastor’s kid in Nebraska, I had a strong desire to get out and see the world. But I would never have had the opportunity to pursue my dreams if it had not been for Rotary.

I was awarded a Rotary scholarship during my junior year at the University of Memphis, while earning a degree in voice performance. I heard about the opportunity through a teacher who had been a Rotary Scholar herself, and a close friend who had been a Rotary Youth Exchange Student. Continue reading

Advocate program builds a culture of peace

Jean Best

Jean Best addresses participants of a peace conference.

By Jean Best, a Peace Officer in District 1020, with Rotary Peace Fellow Flor Yanez and Rotary Coordinator Keith Best

Who would have thought that sitting in an awareness raising session about Rotary Peace Fellows would have led to the creation of a skills based Peace Advocate Programme and an invitation to affect the lives of young people across the entire country of Mexico?

We received an invitation from Mexico’s national commission for peace after Rotary Peace Fellow Flor Yanez  Continue reading

5 Reasons to apply for a Rotary Peace Fellowship

Barbara Herthel

Rotary Peace Fellow Barbara Herthel

By Barbara Servulo Herthel, a Rotary Peace Fellow from Brazil

As I reached the end of my Professional Certificate Fellowship Program at the Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University, I found myself dealing with a lot of feelings and thoughts about this experience. I am very thankful for the three months, all the sharing and learning I received from others, the daily routine, the field trips, and more.

To express my gratitude, I decided to come up with 5 reasons to apply for this program, based on my own experience and the lessons I learned. Continue reading

Fighting polio – an emergency response in Nigeria

Emergency Operations Center

The Emergency Operations Center in Abuja, Nigeria, kicks into action.

By Chris Offer, Rotary Club of Ladner, British Columbia, Canada

In late August 2016, I had the extraordinary opportunity to be in the National Polio Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Abuja, Nigeria. The center was activated to manage the response to two polio cases confirmed in Borno State.

I was in Nigeria as part of a Polio External Review team with the World Health Organization, CDC, and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that had been planned  months before. But with the discovery of new polio cases, our focus shifted. Continue reading

Polio survivor’s fight to live a normal life

Tingle, Beard and Rohling

Peggy Tingle with Neal Beard (left) and Keith Rohling, president-elect of the Lawrenceburg Rotary Club.

By Neal Beard, a member of the Rotary Club of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, USA

“I was 18 when I contracted the disease,” Peggy said, as she spoke into a lowered, stationary microphone set up at the front of our meeting room. She spoke from a motorized wheelchair, reading from her notes.

Peggy was the guest speaker at our club meeting recently, and her story underscored for me why we need to remain committed to eradicating this terrible disease of polio. Statistics are one thing, but when you hear someone’s story who has battled the disease, it takes your emotional resolve to a completely different level. Continue reading

What makes a Peace Fellow?

Chris and the Peace Boat

Christopher John Lindstrom and English and Spanish trainers aboard the Peace Boat.

By Christopher John Lindstrom, a 2011-13 Rotary Peace Fellow at International Christian University, Japan

As a Rotary Peace Fellow, I was excited to be able to use my experience building bridges of understanding through language all over the world on board the Peace Boat.

Peace Boat is a 33-year-old nongovernmental organization based in Japan that works to promote peace, human rights, equal and sustainable development, and respect for the environment. Continue reading

Reflections from earthquake stricken Italy

Earthquake damage central Italy

Geraniums hang from the railing in front of a house destroyed by the earthquake in central Italy.

By Luca Della Volta, Charter President of Rotary E-Club 2042 Italia and 2016-17 Service Projects Committee Chair. ( Read it in Italian )

I wanted to write about how much love and support Rotary is bringing to the areas of Italy devastated by the recent earthquake. But my words fail me, so I have to first write from the heart about what I have seen.

I feel as if death has entered me. My lungs inhale the dust of the earth. My feet walk amid debris. My hands touch stone that suddenly gave way, smashing hopes and dreams. Continue reading

Making peace, one exchange student at a time

Belgian Exchange Student Marcellin Niset in Alaska

Belgian Exchange Student Marcellin Niset in Alaska

By Marcellin Niset, Rotary Youth Exchange Student from Belgium to Alaska

The Italian-American author and actress Vanna Bonta wrote, “There’s no hospitality like understanding.” That quote stuck with me as a Rotary Youth Exchange student to Alaska in 2015-16. I arrived in Alaska, a wilderness filled with beauty and love, determined to make my exchange purposeful and beneficial for myself, my host community, and the world.

An exchange is not only about a student going abroad, it is about all the people that make this exchange possible, and the ones that are impacted, directly and indirectly. Continue reading

Open World Program promotes understanding

Open World program delegation

Rotary members in North Carolina host delegates from Russia in the Open World program.

By Greg Batz, a member of the Rotary Club of White Bear Lake

Twelve years ago, I was invited by a fellow Rotarian from a neighboring Rotary club to chauffer a delegation of Russian judges to the federal court house in Minneapolis for a tour and meetings on a Friday morning. Little did I know how that simple offer to help that day would change my life.

These five judges had been nominated and selected to participate in the Open World Leadership Program and were just finishing their 10 day visit to the United States. The experience I had that day was the beginning of an opportunity to travel to Russia four times and experience a country that most Americans only read about in the news or see on TV. Continue reading

Living a Rotary dream

Desai and his brick

Binish Desai and the brick his company makes from industrial waste.

By Binish Desai, a member of the Rotary Club of Bulsar, India, and a former Rotary Youth Exchange student

India is my Nation
Valsad is my Station
Helping is my Aim
Binish is my Name

I’ll never forget the introduction I used as an exchange student.

This year, I have had the outstanding opportunity of not only meeting other youth exchange students from around the world, but of being recognized by my Rotary community as an outstanding alumnus. My youth exchange took place in 2009-10 almost six years ago, and yet my Rotary experience feels like it’s just beginning. Continue reading