Rotary Youth Exchange returns: the making of a video

Rotary Youth Exchange student
A video about Rotary Youth Exchange captures one student’s story and the many people who go into making an exchange successful.

By Logan Johnson, Youth Exchange and Youth Protection Promotions and Engagement Specialist at Rotary International

A few years ago, volunteers of the Rotary Youth Exchange program were sending thousands of students around the globe each year to learn new languages, discover new cultures, and become global citizens. Then COVID-19 brought almost every aspect of the program to a screeching halt. Like many other aspects of Rotary, the program found new life online with virtual exchanges, which offered a safe alternative to in-person exchanges.

But many anticipated the return of in-person exchanges, and as of May 2022 in-person exchanges were planned and are happening worldwide for the first time in over two years!

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Vocational training team empowers fathers in Mongolia

Vocational training team
The vocational training team leads a session for social workers and psychologists.

By Jennifer Scott, Rotary Club of Central Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia

Mongolia, a country caught between two giants – China and Russia, is a long, long way from Australia and I never planned to travel there. However, like many Rotary projects, it is through networking and circumstance that you find an opportunity to make a difference. Mine came as part of a vocational training team to Mongolia to conduct workshops to empower single fathers.

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A moment with Rotary that changed my life

Rohrs on NID
Rotary Foundation Trustee Dean Rohrs with a child during a National Immunization Day trip in northern Nigeria several years ago.

By Dean Rohrs, Rotary Foundation Trustee and past RI vice president

A few years back, I was taking part in a polio immunization field trip in northern Nigeria, vaccinating children against the disease. After a dusty trip on non-existent roads right into the northern Nigeria countryside, I was dropped off under a tree with a Rotaractor translator, one other Rotary member, and the local polio immunization team. This is an area frequented by Boko Haram and although I grew up in Africa, and am adventurous, I wasn’t sure that I would ever be found again.

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Ending racism, building peace

By Geoffrey Diesel and Kathy Doherty, co-founders of the Racial Equity Project

The two of us met as Rotary Peace Fellows during the inaugural cohort of Peace Activators in North America. We made a commitment to provide training, education, and support to the Rotary family on the framework of Positive Peace. The initiative grew out of Rotary’s strategic partnership with the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), a global think tank dedicated to measuring Positive Peace defined as the “attitudes, institutions, and structures that uphold peaceful societies.”

Peace activators in the US were already addressing racism in this country, but the murder of George Floyd in 2020 served as catalyst for further action. In October of that year, we co-founded the Racial Equity Project (REP), a subcommittee of peace activators in North America, committed to studying ways to create a more peaceful society through antiracism.

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A polio survivor’s plea: Don’t let this happen to you

Div Louw
Polio survivor Div Louw, of the Rotary Club of Benoni, South Africa, trains for an upcoming para sport triathlon event.

By Div Louw, Rotary Club of Benoni, South Africa

I was a typical, energetic four-year old in South Africa, running around our house with visions of my hero, long distance runner Jan Barnard, in my head when I felt something wrong. I ran inside and told my mother, “I have a dripping tap in my chest.” This was my way of describing what I felt, my heart skipping beats now and again. My mom, Christine, pressed an ear to my chest and called our general practitioner.

That would be the last day I would run imaginary races with Barnard. I had contracted spino-bulbar polio, which destroys neurons in the brainstem causing respiratory or cardiac failure. I was given less than a 2% chance of survival. This was in 1955, during a polio epidemic in South Africa, months before the Salk Vaccine was declared safe and effective.

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Rotary clubs, Peace Corps volunteers support Ukrainian refugees

Supplies to refugees
A young volunteer (in white) helps distribute supplies to Ukrainian refugees in Moldova.

By Kim Dixon, Rotary Club of Raleigh Midtown, North Carolina, USA

When I served in the Peace Corps in the Republic of Georgia from 2014-2016, I engaged with the International Rotary Club of Tbilisi to support several service projects. As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer – and now a Rotary member of the Rotary Club of Raleigh Midtown – I am proud to help integrate our shared service goals as the current President of Partnering for Peace, a nonprofit that promotes and supports the formal service partnership between Rotary International and US Peace Corps. 

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“I Found a Purpose in My Pain:” Nigerian Oncologist Changes Lives

Line for screening
People line up for cervical cancer screening and testing during a health day in Ikeja, Nigeria, organized by the Rotary Action Group for Family Health & AIDS prevention.
Dr. Omolola Salako
Dr. Omolola Salako

The pandemic did not just slow down the delivery of essential health services to vulnerable populations. In many cases, it completely cut it off. On 23-24 June, health days were organized at 60 sites in Nigeria. At two sites at Ikeja, Dr. Omolola Salako, a clinical oncologist, and her team witnessed hundreds of women queueing up to get their cervical cancer screening and tests done. Salako is founder of three organizations – Sebeccly Cancer Care and Support Centre, Oncopadi Technologies and Pearl Oncology Clinic, and has spent over 16 years providing quality care and education to cancer patients in Nigeria. She recently shared her experience with Sneha Saloni, a communications specialist with the Rotary Action Group for Family Health & AIDS prevention.

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Australian tandem bike ride raises awareness for polio eradication

Phil and Joyce Ogden set off from Perth
Phil and Joyce Ogden set out from Perth, Australia, on their ride across the Nullarbor Plain to raise money and awareness for Rotary’s polio eradication efforts.

By Phil and Joyce Ogden, Rotary Club of South Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

My wife Joyce and I enjoy tandem cycling. Two years ago, when I met somebody who had cycled the Nullarbor Plain in Australia, a seed was planted in the back of my mind that maybe this was a challenge for us to do in the future.

We are closer than ever to ending polio. We have reduced cases by 99.9% since 1988. With our partners, Rotary has immunized more than 2.5 billion children worldwide to end polio for good.  But we’re not there yet and we can’t afford to be complacent.

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Rotary, Lions team up to serve in Brazil

Rotary and Lions serving together
The Rotary Club of Marília Coroados, Brazil, teams up with the Lions Club of Nova Geração to pack meals for three charities in 2021.

By Marcos Farto, president of the Rotary Club of Marília Coroados, Brazil

As a member of Rotary for 11 years, I’ve seen how members put Service Above Self. Never has this been more evident than during the COVID-19 pandemic, when we all became aware of how vulnerable life can be and how much we depend on each other.

Many have stepped forward. And out of that need to help, a beautiful story of collaboration and partnership emerged.

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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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