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

10 reasons to apply for a Rotary Peace Fellowship at ICU

Cherry blossoms line the main entrance to ICU in March.

By Lorraine Hayman, incoming Rotary Peace Fellow at International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan, 2019-21

This summer, I will join the 18th class of Rotary Peace Fellows at International Christian University. Here are my top ten reasons for applying to ICU: Continue reading

Pilgrimage produces project for peace

Rotary Peace Fellow Magdalena Zurita on the Via Francigena

By Magdalena Zurita, Rotary Peace Fellow, International Christian University, Japan, 2016-18
In May of 2018, I completed my master’s studies as a Peace Fellow at International Christian University in Japan. As I waited for the graduation ceremonies, I pondered where I should put everything I had just learned into practice. I was awakened one morning with a new and unexpected thought – traveling. And the word “Tuscany” resounded in my head.

Continue reading

A Rotary Peace Fellow’s journey to Antarctica

Women scientists on Antarctica

Emilse Anabella Palacios joined other women scientists as part of the Homeward Bound expedition to Antarctica.

By Emilse Anabella Palacios, Rotary Peace Fellow 2009-11

My relationship with Rotary began as a Rotary Youth Exchange student and member of a Group Study Exchange. Later as a Rotary Peace Fellow at Duke University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2009-11, I began a process of learning about leadership that will continue throughout my life.

On the last day of 2018, I set sail for Antarctica with 89 other women scientists from 26 countries as part of Homeward Bound, an initiative that aims to heighten the influence and impact of women in making decisions that shape our planet. On board the former research vessel MV Ushuaia, we represented the largest female expedition ever to that continent. Continue reading

Rotary makes it a small world after all

Jordan Koletic and Robert Smayda

Jordan Koletic, left, and Robert Smayda Jr. at Rotary Day at the United Nations in 2014.

By Kamlesh Chandan, Rotary Club of Lake Norman/Huntersville, North Carolina, USA

In 2015, I was working at one of the largest Fortune 500 banks in the United States when I read an article on our internal website about a team member traveling to eastern Africa. I found the story intriguing, and reached out to her for more details about the trip and to see if it had a connection with Rotary. But at the time I did not hear back. Continue reading

How to prepare to be a Rotary Peace Fellow

Orientation for Rotary Peace Fellows at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand.

By Bonnie Emerson, Rotary Peace Fellow at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand, Class 26, from Canada

As an Indigenous (Metis) Canadian woman from Winnipeg Manitoba, I was surprised and very honoured when I was encouraged to apply for the Rotary International Peace Fellowship Program. I wasn’t too optimistic, though. How could a police officer from a mid-sized Canadian city be selected when applicants come from all over the world? Continue reading

Natural farming and the sanctity of life

Natural farming

Tajima-san, second from left, and Lorena Rodriguez, right, on the natural farm in Tochigi.

By Lorena Rodriguez, 2017-19 Rotary Peace Fellow, International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan

In November, I traveled to Tochigi, to visit Tajima-san’s farm, where he practices natural farming. Masanobu Fukuoka, a Japanese farmer and philosopher, dedicated his life to demonstrating that “natural farming” can provide us with the conditions and the food necessary to survive on this planet. Continue reading

The right to a better life

The commemoration of the mass murder of 72 migrants

LA 72 held this commemoration of the mass murder of 72 migrants by the Los Zetas drug cartel in San Fernando, Mexico, in 2010. Photo courtesy Giorgio Algeri

By Giorgio Algeri, 2010-11 Rotary Peace Fellow, University of Queensland, Australia 

On a late evening in August, a family of eight migrant persons from Honduras arrived at the refugee shelter where I was serving as a short-term volunteer in Tabasco, Mexico, near the border with Guatemala. The family of three adults and five children, most below the age of 10, had fled their country for security reasons and were renting a tiny room in Tabasco awaiting asylum. The son of the landlord came home drunk and threatened the family with a machete, forcing them to leave all their belongings behind. Continue reading

How to spread positive peace

Planning the 2019 Positive Peace Workshop in Mexico.

Laurie Smolenski, right, joins Rotary members, Rotary staff, and Rotary partners in planning the 2019 Positive Peace Workshop in Mexico.

By Laurie Smolenski

When I learned about the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), a think tank dedicated to using empirical research to better understand the drivers of peace, as a Rotary Peace Fellow in 2016, I was fascinated. The idea that peace – which often lives in a lofty realm of aspiration and emotions – could be articulated in concrete metrics, underpinned by data, and visualized through heat maps and charts was new and profoundly impactful to me. Continue reading

Everyone’s safer when a fight is avoided

Rotary Peace Fellow and Vancouver police training instructor Bryan Nykon demonstrates some low-risk judo moves that can avoid escalating violence.

By Chris Offer, Chair, The Rotary Foundation’s Peace Major Gifts Initiative Committee, and a member of the Rotary Club of Ladner, Delta, British Columbia, Canada

I had the opportunity recently to visit the Police Tactical Training Center in Vancouver, British Columbia, a state-of-the-art facility complete with firing range, simulation rooms, gymnasium, and classrooms. My guide was Rotary Peace Fellow Bryan Nykon, who graduated in 2010 from the Rotary Peace Center at Bradford University. After graduation, he joined the Vancouver Police and worked as a patrol constable before his transfer as an instructor in the training center. Continue reading