Finding common ground during the pandemic

Kiran Sirah Singh at the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee, USA.

By Kiran Singh Sirah, a 2011-13 Rotary Peace Fellow and president of the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee, USA

I’ve been having lots of inspiring conversations with my fellow Rotarians recently. As a Rotary Peace Fellow, I’ve found it so helpful to connect and brainstorm with my colleagues from the program. I think many of us individually and institutionally have had our thoughts crowded out by our focus on survival early in this crisis.

The question marks we all face remain overwhelming. But as we have talked with one another, it has shifted our attention on collaboration and supporting one another. We’ve been focusing on how we can help not just ourselves and each other in our own personal and professional circles, but also make a difference in the wider world. Continue reading

Honoring the mothers behind our Peace Fellows

Lea Yague leads an activity with the newly formed Rotary Club of Solana Moonlight.

Erika Isabel Yague

By Erika Isabel Yague, Rotary Peace Fellow at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

As Rotary Peace Fellows, we find inspiration when we take time to remember and recognize the people who support and motivate us in our work of pursuing a sustainable peace. For me, the principal person is my mom, the first woman that inspired me to live life in a way that would give back to the community. And given that May is the month of Mother’s Day, I felt it doubly fitting to talk about my mom as we honor the amazing mothers or mother figures we have in our lives. Continue reading

Prevent gender based violence

Elsa Marie D’Silva, 2016 Rotary Peace Fellow.

By Elsa Marie D’Silva, Rotary Peace Fellow alumna, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

During the lockdown enforced due to COVID-19, I have been reaching out to all my friends to see how they are doing. The other day I happened to call one of my girl friends who I know has been in an abusive relationship to find out if she was fine. She answered my call and we exchanged pleasantries. In the midst of the conversation she suddenly went quiet and then started to talk in riddles. I immediately sensed that all was not right and asked her if her partner was around. She could not even answer with a “yes” or “no” and so I quickly reassured her that I understood her situation and we could communicate further on WhatsApp. Continue reading

Rotary’s peace initiatives at a tipping point

Positive Peace activity

Rotarians, Rotary Peace Fellows, Rotaractors, and Rotary Scholars participate in a Positive Peace workshop.

By Chris Offer, Rotary Club of Ladner, Delta, British Columbia, Canada, and chair of the Peace Major Gifts Initiative

I spent three days in Ontario, California, USA, in January with a group of passionate peacebuilders learning to be Rotary Positive Peace Activators.

The goal of the three-day training was to develop a worldwide network of peacebuilders to support Rotarians and Rotaractors in fostering Positive Peace in their communities. By 2024, Rotary will train 150 new Positive Peace Activators in six global regions, prepared to educate, coach, and accompany Rotarians in at least 1,000 presentations and/or workshops, and act as consultants on projects locally and globally. Continue reading

Peace Fellow makes films to heighten understanding

Former Rotary Peace Fellow Megumi Nishikura filming with a DSLR camera.

Megumi Nishikura

By Megumi Nishikura, 2006-08 Rotary Peace Fellow, International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan

When I was six years old, my Japanese father and American mother took me to the Pearl Harbor National Memorial in Hawaii. When I saw the wreckage of the USS Arizona, I was shocked to learn that the two countries that I belonged to had once been at war with each other. Continue reading

Building Positive Peace in Venezuela

Mauricio Pernía-Reyes

Mauricio Pernía-Reyes leads a class on Positive Peace in Venezuela.

Mauricio Pernía-Reyes

Mauricio Pernía-Reyes

By Mauricio R. Pernía-Reyes, president of the Rotary Club of San Cristóbal Metropolitano, Venezuela

I recently discovered a valuable resource on Rotary’s website that has strengthened my club’s efforts to serve our community and build peace. When I was selected to serve as club president for the 2019-20 year, I wanted to expand my understanding of the resources that Rotary makes available online and through social networks. That is when I found the Rotary Positive Peace Academy. Continue reading

Event brings together Peace Fellows, Nobel laureates

Rotary Peace Fellows at Mexico summit

Rotary Peace Fellows at the Nobel Peace Summit (from left to right): Lauren Coffaro (University of Bradford); Summer Lewis (University of Queensland); Rosalvina Otálora (Universidad del Salvador); Jorge Meruvia (International Christian University)

By Summer Lewis, Rotary Peace Fellow and coordinator of the Rotary-Institute for Economics and Peace Partnership

It’s not often that you get to spend International Peace Day, 21 September, surrounded by more than 30 Nobel Peace laureates and 1,200 young peacebuilders. But thanks to my network of connections with Rotary Peace Fellows, I was able to do just that and bring 30 Rotaractors, Rotarians, and Peace Fellows from the United States, Mexico, and Colombia with me to the 17th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates. 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

My mother’s dream

Reem Ghunaim and her nieces.

Reem Ghunaim and her nieces. Photo by Moataz Al Sadey

By Reem Ghunaim

I am a Rotary Peace Fellow from Palestine. My mother is a Palestinian refugee who fled her home with her family in 1948. My father’s entire village was displaced for two weeks in 1967. In fact, nearly half of my family are Palestinian refugees.

I was born and raised in Tulkarem, home of two refugee camps that still exist from the Nakba of 1948. One camp is beside my former high school in the middle of downtown. The other is located at the Eastern entrance of my city. This refugee camp is the first thing I see every time I return home to visit my family. Continue reading

The power of story to build a better future

Kiran Singh Sirah (middle with sunglasses) and other Rotary Peace Fellows at the Rotary Peace Symposium in Hamburg, Germany. Photo by Monika Lozinska/Rotary International.

By Kiran Singh Sirah, Rotary Peace Fellow and president of the International Storytelling Center

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of visiting Hamburg, Germany, to present a series of talks at the Rotary International Convention and Peace Symposium. I always look forward to the symposiums and the chance to reconnect with other Rotary Peace Fellows. The event underscored for me how much better it is to hear people’s stories in real life, in person, as opposed to on the news. Continue reading