Rotary is a family that unites

Wilson in South Africa

Mark Wilson during his Rotary Youth Exchange in South Africa.

By Mark Wilson, Rotary Club of London

After a long flight from London, I arrived in Durban, South Africa, in 2011 to begin a short-term Rotary Youth Exchange, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Canterbury Sunrise and hosted by Westville Rotary. I did not know what or who would be greeting me, so I had a bit of anxiety which I can clearly remember to this day. Continue reading

What does it mean to be human?

Misaki Otani

Misaki Otani, an Interact member in District 5170 (California, USA)

By Misaki Otani, member of Interact in District 5170  (California, USA)                 

Interact members in my district are raising $120,000 this year to aid Syrian refugees overseas and refugee resettlement in the San Francisco Bay Area. We are also raising awareness, planning service projects, and working to break the stigma associated with refugees.

Why did we chose this project? Continue reading

When I give to Rotary, I get so much more back

161027_witkowski1

Stephanie Witkowski, middle in blue shirt, during her Rotary Youth Exchange in Slovakia. 

By Stephanie Witkowski, Rotary Club of Honolulu Pau Hana

At 28 years old, I decided to become a Rotarian, because Rotary changed my life.

I grew up in a small town in Oregon, USA, and was a young leader in my school. When I was 15 years old, I applied to attend a Rotary Youth Leadership Awards event in Rotary’s District 5110 to learn more about myself and what leadership meant to me. During that amazing week-long experience, I learned not only about how to be a better leader for my school and community, but about Rotary itself.  Continue reading

Rotary scholarship worth the ‘calculated risk’

Avenida del Libertador, Buenos Aires

Avenida del Libertador, Buenos Aires

By Christine Cloonan, former Rotary Scholar

I first heard about the Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship during a coffee meeting with a fellow member of a women’s business network now known as Ellevate Network. My life path prior to that had been clear, but not always direct.

My goal was to study to get the best education I could with the ultimate purpose of getting a “good job.” But to the bafflement of my older relatives, landing on that good job took a bit of exploring. My first job was with a law firm, which convinced me not to go to law school. Accepting a one year teaching fellowship, I began a five year teaching career and earned a Master of Spanish at Middlebury College. I then developed an “itch” to go abroad to perfect my language skills and explore new places. Continue reading

Peace Fellow’s summer: a diplomatic experience

Sarah Sanderson and other embassy interns

Rotary Peace Fellow Sarah Sanderson (second from right) and interns at the U.S. embassy in Mozambique with Ambassador H. Dean Pittman.

161014_sanderson_hshotBy Sarah Sanderson, Rotary Peace Fellow, International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan

As a Rotary Peace Fellow, I had been looking forward to my summer applied field experience, which is self-designed by the peace fellow. So I was thrilled when I was accepted for a summer internship position at the U.S. Embassy in Maputo, Mozambique.

The goal of a Department of State internship is to expose interns to a broad picture of how a U.S. embassy works. Because of this, over a ten-week period I was able to rotate through three different departments including: financial management, consular, and public affairs.

Continue reading

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

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

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