Rotary Peace Fellow: storytelling can build peace

Kiran Sirah speaks at the International Assembly 21 January. Photo by Alyce Henson/Rotary International

Kiran Sirah speaks at the International Assembly 22 January. Photo by Alyce Henson/Rotary International

Kiran Sirah is the executive director of the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee. He graduated from the Rotary Peace Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2013 with a Master of Arts in Folklore. The following is a excerpt from his speech 22 January at the International Assembly, a training event for incoming leaders in San Diego, California, USA.

There is a saying: The world is like a book, and those who do not travel will only ever have read the first page. For me storytelling is a way of traveling the world. Why? Because it enables us to be inspired, to follow our dreams, and to realize that our stories belong to a world full of stories just waiting to unfold.

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Why telling Rotary’s story is so important

Rotary Director-elect Jennifer E. Jones talks about the importance of Rotary's brand.

Rotary Director-elect Jennifer E. Jones talks about the importance of Rotary’s brand. Photo by Alyce Henson/Rotary International

By Ryan Hyland, Rotary editorial staff

More than a year ago, Rotary leaders launched the Strengthening Rotary initiative to enhance and simplify the organization’s story, visual identity, and digital experience. While Rotary’s recognition on the global scale is strong, our image can still use strengthening in local communities.

Speakers at Rotary’s annual training event for leaders in San Diego, California, USA, this week challenged incoming district governors to champion Rotary’s brand in their districts and make sure that their clubs support the effort to tell Rotary’s story in a clear and compelling way. Here’s what a few incoming governors had to say about the initiative: Continue reading

Sesame Street health crusader visits Rotary leaders

Past RI President Bill Boyd and Raya

Past RI President Bill Boyd and Raya. Photo by Alyce Henson/Rotary International

By Ryan Hyland, Rotary editorial staff

Rotary leaders received a surprise visit Monday from Raya, one of Sesame Street’s newest puppets, during their annual training exercise in San Diego.

Raya joined past RI President Bill Boyd on stage during the third general session of the 2015 International Assembly, joking about how cool Rotary’s emblem looked and chatting with Boyd about toilets.

Sesame Workshop introduced Raya last year with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to teach the TV show’s millions of young viewers in Bangladesh, India, and Nigeria about sanitation and hygiene.

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My Rotary Moment: Emine’s story

140120_alpayBy Şafak Alpay, RI director-elect and a member of the Rotary Club of Istanbul-Sisli, Turkey

About ten years ago, an ambitious literacy campaign was started in our region using the Concentrated Language Encounter (CLE) method. Like all other clubs, my club Sisli participated with great enthusiasm, running a course for women in one of Istanbul’s slum neighborhoods.

On graduation day, one young woman who was among those to receive their certificates captured everyone’s attention. She had both her lower arms missing, and as her certificate was placed under her armpit, Emine timidly asked her instructor to get the sheet of paper she kept in her pocket. It was a thank-you letter written to the person who taught her to read and write.  Continue reading

Incoming district governors excited to Light Up Rotary

140114_themelogoBy Daniela Garcia, RI editorial staff

Incoming district governors enthusiastically greeted the theme for 2014-15, Light Up Rotary, during the first plenary of the International Assembly, Rotary’s annual training event for future leaders. RI President-elect Gary C.K. Huang explained he was inspired by the teachings of Chinese philosopher Confucious who said: “It is better to light a single candle, than to sit and curse the darkness.”

I asked several of the future leaders their thoughts about the theme, moments after it had been unveiled here in San Diego, California, USA. Here is what they said: Continue reading