Talking sticks, restorative practices build cooperation

Lindsey Pointer facilitates a connection circle using a talking piece.

By Lindsey Pointer, Rotary Global Grant Scholar

During the recent U.S. government shut down, a bipartisan group of roughly two-dozen senators helped craft the funding deal to reopen the government. The group used a “talking stick” as a tool to facilitate their meeting, only allowing the senator with the stick to speak in an effort to cut down on interruptions. Continue reading

New Englanders, Nigeria clubs aid Boko Haram refugees

By Marty Peak Helman, District 7780 Foundation Chair

Children in a refugee camp in eastern Nigeria.

Children in a refugee camp in eastern Nigeria.

The American University of Nigeria (AUN) was co-founded by Rotarian Felix Obadan in 2000, and 12 years later, when Felix was governor of Rotary’s District 9125, which covers a large portion of Nigeria, he chartered the Rotary Club of Yola-AUN on campus. Their strong influence on campus makes it not surprising that many University professors and senior staff are Rotary members, and that the University prides itself on its work toward peace, entrepreneurship, and economic development as well as its strong academics.

The University’s mission is to graduate students prepared to take on the challenges in Nigeria and throughout West Africa – challenges of climate change, development, and peace building. And peace is not an abstract concept at the university. After all, it is located in Yola, the capital of Adamawa State, in the region where Boko Haram is most powerful. In fact, those few dozen Chibok schoolgirls who escaped from being kidnapped by Boko Haram are now safely living at the University, where they are receiving social services and education. 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

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

Peace is possible: lessons from war-torn Bosnia

Bridge over Neretva River

The restored bridge over the Neretva River in Mostar, a symbol of peace in Bosnia.

By Anton Polsterer, past governor of District 1910 and past chair of the Intercountry Committees Executive Council 

I joined Rotary in Vienna in 1986 and transferred to the Rotary Club of Moscow while working in Russia from 1989-92. After moving back to Austria, I became governor of the district covering Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia, and Austria. After years of war and totalitarian government rule, these communities longed for freedom and peace. Continue reading