Peacebuilding during a time of upheaval

Global Cyber Peace Conference

A delegation of 30 Papua New Guinea participants funded by the Evangelical Lutheran Church take part in the Global Cyber Peace Conference.

Elaine Pratley

Elaine Pratley

By Elaine Pratley, Rotary Peace Fellow

This has not been an easy year. I attended my first virtual funeral because of local lockdowns due to COVID-19. Friends have lost jobs and loved ones, and the news about the global recession remains bleak. And to think that it was only three months ago when I thought the Australian bushfires were the biggest disaster to hit us this year! I feel the word “upheaval” would be an understatement, but I cannot think of a better word.

As a peacebuilder, conflict is at the core of my business. Peacebuilders do not consider conflict as inherently bad but recognize its potential for growth and positive change. Continue reading

Group Study Exchange changed my life

Group study exchange team from India visiting the US

The group study exchange team during a field visit with their hosts in Maryland, USA, in 1990.

By Rakesh K. Gaur, former Group Study Exchange team member

As a citizen of India, I have been troubled by my country’s population growth, economic crisis, poverty, crimes against women, and child abuse. I had the privilege of taking part in a Group Study Exchange, supported by The Rotary Foundation, 30 years ago, and it totally changed my perspective on life, and kindled my urge to do something to help our society. Continue reading

Scholarship program in Japan pays dividends

Yoneyama alumni

Alumni of the Rotary Yoneyama Memorial Foundation work with Rotary members on a clean up project.

By Masa Kato

As a regional communications specialist for Rotary International, I get excited when I hear stories about students who have had their lives changed by Rotary scholarships. Lasitha Eriyawa, a Sri Lankan, came to Japan in 2001 to pursue his college education. During his senior year, he received a scholarship from the Rotary Yoneyama Memorial Foundation, a program administered by an independent foundation named after Umekichi Yoneyama, the Father of Rotary in Japan. Continue reading

Rotary Peace Fellows inspire at special concert

Peace Fellows and Lady Solti

Rotary Peace Fellows with Lady Valerie Solti (third from left) and Orchestra Director Charles Kaye (right) at a special performance of The World Orchestra for Peace.

By Carol Hall, Rotary Foundation Chair for the Rotary Club of Abingdon Vesper, Oxfordshire, England

I recently had the privilege of hosting two Rotary Peace Fellows from Bradford University – David from The Gambia and Ghenwa from Syria. Ghenwa comes from southern Syria which has not had the destruction, bombing, and killing that has taken place in northern Syria. However, she cannot live in Syria for fear of reprisal or arrest because of her association with Rotary. Continue reading

Bringing the world together through Rotaract

Members of the Rotaract Club of Manila

Members of the Rotaract Club of Manila

By Karla Patricia Ravida, President, Rotaract Club of Manila

Did you know that when you serve others, you stand to gain as well? This observation was noted by American religious leader and author Gordon Hinckley when he wrote “One of the great ironies of life is this – he or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served.” For the past five years, I have been part of a Rotaract club and I can say I have had a lot of opportunities to live out that statement and grow as a young professional through serving others. Continue reading

Water as an instrument for peace

Rotary Scholars in WCD program

Rotary Scholars from left to right: Nataliya Chemayeva from Turkmenistan, Aminjon Abdulloev from Tajikistan, Jahan Taganova from Turkmenistan, Botir Ismoilov from Uzbekistan, Botagoz Sharipova from Kazakhstan, and Nargiza Osmonova from Kyrgyzstan. Photo by Celeste Noche. © Rotary International. All Rights Reserved.

By Nataliya Chemayeva, Rotary Scholar, Water Cooperation and Diplomacy Program

The Central Asian region has been the focus of global water catastrophes for almost two decades now. No one is indifferent to the problems that we share as a region. There are multiple layers to the problem that have transformed political discourse within the countries and have affected relationships between water experts.

All of this personally was ambiguous to me until I started working for the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea. In my commission, we deal mostly with environmental issues and have some exposure to water-related events. This is what sparked my interest in the topic. I soon developed an understanding that technical solutions alone were not going to bring about desired results without a balanced diplomacy. Continue reading

Water and peace in the Aral Sea basin

The video (above) by Botagoz Sharipova, Nataliya Chemayeva, and other Rotary Scholars in the Water Cooperation and Diplomacy program has been selected as finalist by the Geneva Water Hub and will be featured at the Budapest Water Summit 15-17 October and during Geneva Peace Week 4-8 November.

By Botagoz Sharipova, Rotary Scholar, Water Cooperation and Diplomacy Program

Every living being and every local economy depends on water. In my country Kazakhstan, the source of our water comes from seven major rivers that we share with our neighbors. Six of those originate in other countries including Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, China, and Russia. In Central Asia, access to water and conflict resolution are closely intertwined. Continue reading

Returning home again: How Rotary Youth Exchange builds resilience

Julia and host father

Julia Chalifoux (right), a member of her host family (center), and a fellow Rotary Youth Exchange student at the Big Buddha statue in Kamakura, Japan, in 1997.

By Julia Chalifoux, former Rotary Youth Exchange student to Japan

In 1997, at 17 years old, I spent a year living and learning in Tokyo, Japan, as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student.

Thanks to Rotary International, my time in Japan afforded me the opportunity to open my heart, mind, and eyes to a new language, land, and culture; all of this has had a profound and subtle impact and influence on the woman I am today.

In the months leading up to my exchange, I prepared myself for a year abroad, but what I wasn’t prepared for was the post-exchange experience – how returning ‘home’ again to my country of origin would also have an impact. Continue reading

Better together: the beauty of Rotaract twin clubs

Twin club service project

The Rotaract clubs of Chinatown-Manila, Philippines, and Taipei Tin Harbour, Taiwan, take part in a shared service project.

By Julie Chu, charter member of the Rotaract Club of Taipei Tin Harbour, Taiwan

We still joke about how the story of our two clubs is like a love story, with a happily-ever-after ending. The parents met and liked the idea for the children to meet, the children started dating, and the two families decided to join forces in doing good. Continue reading

Lights, camera, Rotaract!

The Beaches Rotaract Club

The Rotaract Club of Jacksonville’s Beaches, Florida, USA

By Charlie Flynn

When I first walked into a meeting of the Rotaract Club of Jacksonville’s Beaches, I couldn’t have possibly known all the unique and rewarding experiences my involvement would afford me. I had no idea what was in store; the connections I would make, the communities I would serve, and the knowledge I would amass.

At the time, the club consisted of less than 10 people. I admired each and every person in the small group and wanted to get involved. They taught me that groups of all shapes and sizes can make a difference in their local and international community. Since then, the club has seen significant growth and now has a membership of over 80. Continue reading