Telling Rotary’s story: make it personal and local

three-year-old-drowned-syrian-boy

The image from September 2015 was disturbing: the lifeless body of a three-year-old boy, clad in a red T-shirt, lying face down on a Turkish beach where he had washed ashore.

Many of us may have thought, “That’s terrible. Someone should do something to help these people.”

That could have been the end of it. We were all aware of the Syrian refugee crisis. We had read newspaper articles and seen the pictures on television screens. The boy was another victim of the war in Syria and the hopes of families to escape the turmoil of their homeland.

Typically, these tragic images are driven from our minds by a parade of other, equally horrific pictures of other victims of war, famine and natural disasters. But there is a reason this event did not quickly fade from of our collective memory.

Within days of the photo appearing, a Vancouver hairdresser stepped forward. She identified the boy on the beach as her brother’s son. Having escaped Syria, her brother had hoped to bring his family to Canada.

This was no longer just about the tragic end of a young life on a remote, rocky beach. The story of Alan Kurdi had become a Canadian story—one that galvanized Canadians into action over the plight of Syrian refugees. It prompted the Canadian government to increase refugee intake numbers and further prompted thousands of ordinary citizens to sponsor other refugees privately.

Journalists look for the local angle

Tip O’Neill, a former speaker of the United States House of Representatives is credited with coining the phrase, “All politics are local.”

I believe that journalists would make a similar observation. “All news is local.” They understand that readers and viewers become more engaged if there is a local angle to a big event or major announcement. They use the experiences of just one person, one family or one organization to report the larger story.

  • We are better able to understand changes to the Canada Child Benefit when we hear a mother tell us how it will impact her family.
  • We care more when a report describes how a Canadian aid worker—ideally with a connection to the local community— is helping in the wake of an earthquake half a world away.
  • We are interested in the insights of a Canadian living in an American neighbourhood where Trump supporters surround her.

The appeal of this type of reporting is not only the local angle, but that the reporters are telling stories. They are not just providing facts and figures.

People love stories. We fondly remember our parents reading bedtime stories. As adults we read novels, watch TV dramas and go to the movies.

Suppose J.K. Rowling had written a book filled with statistics and historical facts about an educational institution—when the school was founded, the number of students enrolled by year, a list of courses offered, names of some of its illustrious graduates, etc. That isn’t the formula to produce an international bestseller. We would never have heard of Hogwarts and Rowling might still be on welfare.

But she didn’t write a fact-filled book. She told us about the adventures of Harry Potter and his friends at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft. She told us stories.

Often the answer when Rotarians are asked, “What is Rotary?” goes something like this:

“Rotary is the world’s oldest service club. Paul Harris and four other businessmen established the first club in Chicago in 1905. Since then, Rotary has spread to more than 200 countries and territories. There are 1.2 million Rotarians in more than 32,000 clubs worldwide.”

I could go on, but I won’t. And you shouldn’t either, because no one outside your club cares. In fact, most Rotarians don’t really care, either.

Explain your personal “Why” 

A better response would be to reframe the question: “Why are you a Rotarian? What is your Rotary story?”

As the media demonstrates daily, the best way to inform and explain is to tell the stories of individuals. The story of Alan Kurdi connected us emotionally with the plight of Syrian refugees.

Use your Rotary story to help people understand what Rotarians do—and to care about what you do. They may show polite interest, but likely won’t really care that your club serves meals to the homeless, that members of your club mentor students at the local high school or that your club supports a medical team that travels to a developing country. But your story can create an emotional connection that makes them care:

  • What did you see when you looked into the eyes of a homeless woman when you filled her plate with food? How did that make you feel?
  • How did a student, who you had been mentoring, react when he finally mastered a difficult math concept? How did that affect you?
  • What did an impoverished resident of a developing country say when he discovered he was pain-free for the first time in years, due to a medical mission supported by Rotarians? How did that make you feel?

What does your club do? What difference does it make? And how does that make you feel?

What the photo and story of Alan Kurdi did was put a face on the plight of Syrian refugees. It’s difficult to get our minds around the concept of millions of refugees, but it’s easy to comprehend the tragic tale of one little three-year-old in a red T-shirt on a remote, rocky beach in Turkey.

No one will remember that there are 1.2 million Rotarians in more than 32,000 clubs in more than 200 countries, but they will remember your story, the one that answers the question, “Why am I a Rotarian?” Now, go tell your story—to other Rotarians, to your family and friends, and to your community. Become Rotary’s image in your world.

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P.S. Dave Leiber, a columnist for The Dallas Morning News, is a master storyteller. In this TEDx talk, Dave describes his V-Shaped Storytelling Formula. It is well worth viewing.

Also read How to Tell Your Stories Effectively by Rotarian Jerome Martin (RC of Edmonton West) for more insight into storytelling.

 

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Curlers from Alberta, British Columbia and NWT drawn to the “best Rotary bonspiel in years.”

Curling rocks on ice

Brian Thompson (RC of Edmonton West) assessed the 57th Annual District 5360/5370 Bonspiel simply and unambiguously: “It was the best bonspiel in years!”

Brian may be a little biased. After all, he did chair the committee, made up of members from Rotary Clubs of Edmonton West and Edmonton Gateway, which hosted the three-day event that was held at Edmonton’s Thistle Curling Club February 22 to 24.

“Everyone seemed happy with the bonspiel,” Brian says. “We received lots of emails saying good things about the event.”

The organizers were pleased with the number of participants. This year, 31 rinks took part.

“This was pretty good,” Brian says. “Attendance has been falling off over the last few years. There were only 28 teams last year.”

The event drew curlers from across both districts, from Lethbridge in the south to Fort St. John and Grande Prairie in the north. There was even one curler from Yellowknife.

The makeup of the rinks varied. Some were mixed teams, but most were all-men or all- women. While most rinks were made up of four curlers from a single Rotary club, a few had curlers from two or more clubs.

The team which won the B Event included curlers from four Rotary clubs and from both districts.

Preparations for the bonspiel began a year ago, as soon as the event was awarded to Edmonton at the 2017 bonspiel in Lethbridge.

Brian says that there is “a bit of a ceremony” required to having a club’s bid to host accepted. All members of the committee must pass through a very small door. No sooner had Brian and his committee passed through the door, it disappeared.

“There is a long tradition of other clubs stealing the door,” he says. “We only had it for two minutes before the door was gone.”

The next time he saw the door was during this year’s bonspiel. By that time, a plaque commemorating the 2018 event had been added to the other plaques on the door, one for each year in which the bonspiel has been held.

After being awarded the event, the committee’s first task was to secure a venue. “The Thistle club had the right dates for us,” Brian says. “It was a great facility.”

Next, the committee looked for a hotel near the rink which could accommodate out-of-town curlers and serve as a venue for the bonspiel’s social activities. As soon as the date and venues were set, it was time to publicize the event.

“By early April, we were able to provide information to participants in previous bonspiels,” Brian says. Later, committee members visited all Edmonton-area clubs to encourage Rotarians to enter the bonspiel.

Once the bonspiel was over and all the bills had been paid, Brian and his committee were left with a surplus of $2,800, which was donated to two not-for-profit organizations.

“Three hundred and sixty dollars of that profit was due to donations from the Athabasca team, who gave back their D Event winnings, and from Eugene Wasylik of Vermilion (the 50/50 winner),” Brian says. This helped the committee decide to which organizations donations would be made.

“Since Athabasca and Vermilion are two communities who will benefit from the Stroke Ambulance—it’s not for us city folks—it has been decided to donate $1,500 to the University of Alberta Hospital Stroke Ambulance,” Brian says.

The remaining $1,300 was donated to Wellspring Edmonton.

The location for the bonspiel alternates between the two Rotary districts, so the 2019 bonspiel will be in District 5360, with RC of Lethbridge as the host club.

2018 District 5360/5370 Bonspiel Results

A EVENT:

Winners – Grande Prairie Sunrise – Duncan Fraser, Serge Martin, Vernon Boyd, Jeff Keddie

Runner-Up – Edmonton Gateway – Dave Douglas, Jamie Pallett, Lorne Parker, Lionel Usunier, Dave Dorcas

B EVENT:

Winners – Spruce Grove/Stony Plain/Yellowknife/Stettler – Tammy Svenningson, Michele Aasgard, Norma Jarvis, Nancy Georget

Runner-Up – Calgary South – Larry Kennedy, Mark Ambrose, Lynn Topp, Roselyn Jack

C EVENT:

Winners – Calgary Heritage Park – Doug Hood, Roger Sontag, Jim Fitzowich, Greg Smyth

Runner-Up – Fort St. John Sunrise – Chuck McDowell, Dean Thom, Gord Sandhu, Gus McLeod

D EVENT:

Winners – Calgary West – Dan Doherty, Darren Grierson, Bill Fitzsimmons, Marvin Pawlivsky

Runner-Up – Athabasca/Edmonton West – Ross Hunter, Greg Roszmann, Dave Liddell, Darryll White

GOOD TIME CHARLIE AWARD – Gus McLeod – Fort St. John Sunrise

HARRY JEWELL AWARDTeam Mueller – Edmonton West – Annie Mueller, Karen Gibbens, Sharon Reedyk, Sabine MacLeod

Spring-Leadership-Learning-Development-2018

Leadership Assembly will prepare leaders to “Be the Inspiration” for their clubs

Spring-Leadership-Learning-Development-2018

In planning the District 5370 Leadership Assembly, Donna Barrett (RC of Edmonton Sunrise) and her learning and development team have woven the 2019-2019 Rotary International theme and priorities into all aspects of the event.

“The 2018-2019 theme will be central to the keynotes and to how the breakout sessions are organized,” Donna says.

“[District Governor-elect Ingrid Neitsch] will be sharing the theme and the keynote speakers will help convey this message.”

Rotary International President-elect Barry Rassin (RC of East Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas) revealed the theme, “Be the Inspiration,” to incoming district governors during RI’s Assembly in San Diego, in January.

“I want you to inspire in your clubs, your Rotarians, that desire for something greater. The drive to do more, to be more, to create something that will live beyond each of us,” he told the district governors-elect.

“Together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change — across the globe, in our communities and in ourselves.”

He asked the incoming district governors to “inspire the club presidents and the Rotarians in your districts to want to change, to want to do more, to want to reach their own potential.”

Click here to watch the RI President-elect’s presentations at the Assembly in January.

T1819EN_RGBDonna says the assembly will provide “incoming leaders with the tools they need to ‘Be the Inspiration’ for their clubs.”

The assembly will be held April 6 and 7 at the Chateau Louis Hotel and Conference Centre, 11727 Kingsway in Edmonton, and will offer something for every Rotarian.

“There is something in the assembly for current leaders, incoming leaders and other Rotarians who want to learn more about Rotary,” Donna says.

“The leadership assemblies are planned to provide motivation, current information, support, opportunities to learn, and to share ideas and strategies to prepare presidents-elect, other club officers and members to have a successful year,” DGE Ingrid says.

“The leadership assembly is also an opportunity to form friendships and networks that support and enhance our relationships. There exists a splendid synergy when like-minded leaders collaborate on making a difference in our communities.”

To encourage participation, the District is offering several attractive registration packages, which provide reduced fees when several Rotarians from a club register as a group. When five Rotarians from one club, including the president-elect, register together their cost will only be $450. If five Rotarians, not including the president-elect, register as a group, the fee is $600.

Individual registrations are $150.

There is a separate fee of $35 per person for Friday evening’s Mix and Mingle.

Click here for additional information and to register.

This spring’s program builds on the Leadership Assembly held in the fall, which received praise from participants.

“The feedback from participants at the fall learning assembly is that it was one of the best learning and development assemblies they had ever attended,” Donna says.

Rotary Peace Fellow will speak about the “Magic of our Foundation” Friday evening

The assembly will kick off at 6 p.m., Friday evening, with what Donna promises will be a mix of fun and information. Following a mix-and-mingle networking reception, which offers a light buffet supper, a no-host bar and entertainment, Rotarians will have the opportunity to hear from the first of two Rotary Peace Fellowship alumni scheduled to speak during the assembly.

Summer Lewis, who also spoke at the RI assembly in January, is currently the Rotary Institute for Peace Partnership Co-ordinator. The topic of her presentation is the Magic of our Foundation.

The Rotary Foundation supports Peace Fellows, paying all the participants’ expenses, including tuition and fees, room and board, round-trip transportation and internship/field study expenses.

Saturday morning, DGE Ingrid will share the RI theme and three priorities for 2018-2019:

  • Support and strengthen clubs
  • Focus and increase humanitarian service
  • Enhance public image and awareness

Ingrid will be followed by keynote presentations from two co-ordinators for RI Zone 24.

Zone Co-ordiantors will focus on Membership and Public Image during Saturday morning keynotes

Assistant Co-ordinator (Membership) Denis Boyd will build on what happened at the fall assembly. He will share strategies to strengthen membership and look at the club culture. Public Image Co-ordinator Sean Hogan will focus on ways to enhance Rotary’s public image. He will suggest techniques that can be used to share what Rotary is doing.

Following the keynote sessions, there will be more breakout sessions than have ever been offered at a District 5370 assembly. Some will be specifically for presidents-elect, treasurers and secretaries.

In their session, Ingrid will ask presidents-elect to set one goal for each of RI’s three 2018-2019 priorities.

All the other sessions are open to all Rotarians. Topics include membership, the Rotary Foundation, youth, club culture/public image, liability, the Rotary Employment Partnership, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission and the Emmanuel Foundation, which partners with Rotary to arrange humanitarian shipments to other countries.

The day will conclude with a second Rotary Peace Fellowship presenter. John Lamming, who was working with the RCMP in Grande Prairie when he was selected as Peace Fellow, has entitled his presentation, Adventures in Peace.

Rotary Peace Fellowships prepare young leaders to assume peace-building roles

sunrise of earth, blue shining  in the space

John Lamming feels that what best prepared him for the year he spent training local police officers in Ukraine was the three months he spent in Thailand in 2013 on a Rotary Peace Fellowship.

Reflecting on that experience, John says that, “The biggest impact was how I was able to apply the skills I learned while I was in the Ukraine.”

The 11-year member of the RCMP was stationed in Grande Prairie when a friend who was a Rotarian encouraged him to apply for the Rotary Peace Fellowship.

District Governor-elect Ingrid Neitsch (RC of Edmonton West) hopes others will follow that Rotarian’s example and approach non-Rotarians who are committed to peace and to conflict prevention and resolution, to apply. She feels it’s important that District 5370 endorse at least one application for the Rotary Peace Fellowship before this year’s deadline.

“I believe that in the midst of the unrest and turmoil apparent in the world, Rotarians are needed as change-makers/peace-makers, through positive examples in projects in local communities and around the world,” Ingrid says.

“Supporting the Peace Fellowship program is an important part, because we are preparing young leaders who will work in peace-building roles throughout the world.”

On its website, Rotary International states that, “the Rotary Peace Centers program develops leaders, who become catalysts for peace and conflict prevention and resolution in their communities and around the world.”

It adds that, “Peace fellowship alumni serve as leaders in government, nongovernmental organizations, the military, law enforcement, education, humanitarian action, restorative justice, and international organizations.”

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The deadline for completing the online application form is May 31. To move the process to the next stage, applicants must request endorsement from a Rotary district before July 1.

John was part of a group of 19 participants from several countries in the three-month professional development certificate program at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand.

Chulalongkorn University is one of the Rotary Peace Centre university partners and the only one that offers a three-month professional development certificate.

The other universities, which are in Australia, England, Japan, Sweden and the United States, offer 15-to-24-month master’s programs. These include a two-to-three-month self-designed, applied field experience and require a final thesis.

Working with people from different cultures

John says “the value-added was that it brought together people from different cultures and we were forced to work together for three months. We could share our experiences from our different cultural perspectives.”

His classmates included people from Nigeria, Argentina, Spain, the Netherlands, Palestine, Australia, Laos and India.

He credits the experience for changing how he views international projects. “Canadians go to help, but that does not necessarily mean we know what is best. Sometimes what we think is best is not the best approach,” he says. “We need to analyze the need from the perspective of the people we work with.”

Each year, up to 50 fellowships for master’s degrees and 50 for professional development certificates are awarded to non-Rotarians worldwide.

The Rotary Peace Fellowship includes tuition and fees, room and board, round-trip transportation and internship/field study expenses.

Unlike the Global Grant Scholarship, which requires some club and district support, the Peace Fellowship is fully funded by the Rotary Foundation.

To be eligible to receive a fellowship for the master’s program, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent and have three years of full-time related work experience. For the certificate program, they need to demonstrate a strong academic background, plus have five years of full-time related work experience.

The RI website provides this explanation of the work-experience requirement:

“Relevant experience varies depending on your area of expertise and focus. It could be directly related to peace-building or conflict resolution. It can also be work in other areas such as resource and environmental issues, education and literacy, women’s rights, journalism, public health, and disease prevention, among others. International experience, working with a nonprofit or multilateral institution, working in a developing country, working with youth, or volunteer work are also considered relevant experience.”

Applicants also must have excellent leadership skills and be proficient in English. A second language is strongly recommended for those wishing to enter the master’s program.

John will share his experience as a Rotary Peace Fellow as the final speaker at the Spring Leadership Assembly in Edmonton on Saturday, April 7. Another Peace Fellowship alumni, Summer Lewis, will speak on Friday evening, April 6.

Further information can be obtained from District Governor-Elect Ingrid Neitsch, ingrid.neitsch@gmail.com or Dean Wood, the chair of the Rotary Foundation Scholarship Committee, dean.wood@shaw.ca.

Rotarians Bernie Kreiner and Nicole Konkin serve as ShelterBox ambassadors in District 5370

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ShelterBox tents were deployed following a typhoon which devastated parts of the Philippines in 2012

When disaster strikes anywhere in the world, Bernie Kreiner (RC of Hinton) is confident that help will soon be on its way from ShelterBox, a project partner in disaster relief with Rotary International.

Bernie and Nicole Konkin (RC of Edmonton) are ShelterBox Canada ambassadors in District 5370. In this role, they are responsible for “raising awareness and promoting ShelterBox Canada within the District,” Bernie says.

“We make presentations to Rotary clubs, at schools and to community groups,” Nicole says. “We take a kit with us and set it up so that people can see what’s in a ShelterBox.”

On its website, ShelterBox Canada states that ShelterBoxes “are filled with practical tools and utensils that help to create the framework for everyday life.” These include a family-sized tent to shelter people from the elements and provide “a safe space in which people can start to recover from the physical and emotional trauma.”

A typical ShelterBox includes what a family needs to survive the aftermath of a disaster, such as tarps, blankets, solar lights, a cooking stove, pots, dishes, a shovel, a water purification system, and mosquito netting.

Double-Walled tents for colder climates

There is some variation in the contents of ShelterBoxes, based on local circumstances. For example, double-walled tents are deployed in regions where colder temperatures are common.

When a disaster occurs, boxes are on their way to where they are needed within two or

ShelterBoxWinterPhoto

Winterized ShelterBox tents sheltered Syrian families in a refugee camp in norther Iraq

three days, from seven warehouses located around the world. Distribution is co-ordinated from the headquarters in England, where ShelterBox was established in 2000 by a Rotary club as a Millennium project. Its purpose is to provide temporary shelter and supplies to families who have been displaced by natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, drought and famine.

ShelterBox Canada, which is a registered Canadian charity, has been part of the ShelterBox network since 2010.

Supporting ShelterBox Canada is a way for Youth to Make a Difference

Nicole says she was “first drawn to ShelterBox because I do lots of work with youth. They always want to do something and this is a way in which they can become involved.”

She believes that ShelterBox is an ideal vehicle for this type of involvement, “because if we can get resources to families when they are most in need, we can get them back to normalcy more quickly. If they are dry and safe, they are ready to rebuild.”

Bernie explains his involvement by saying that he “was impressed by how the organization works in partnership with Rotary. I appreciate how they deal with people who are experiencing crisis in their lives, in the aftermath of war and natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes and floods.”

Based on his own experience, he can relate to what it’s like to encounter a natural disaster. “I myself was displaced by a flood,” he says, recalling what happened in 1988 when he was living in Slave Lake.

In addition to its iconic boxes, the organization provides ShelterKits, which contain what people need to begin recovering and repairing their homes, including such items as tools, ropes, tarpaulins and “whatever it takes to help people recover from disaster.”

“We test and evaluate all the aid we provide by talking to, and learning from, the families who use it. This fuels us to be innovative and to continue evolving,” says ShelterBox Canada’s website.

In the past 12 months, ShelterBox has responded to 24 events in 21 countries, including the Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh, the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in the Caribbean, drought in Somaliland and conflict in Iraq.

To learn more about ShelterBox, visit the organization’s website or contact Bernie (780-865-9355 or Bernie.kreiner@shaw.ca) or Nicole (780-756-0719 or nicole@sugarplumconsulting.com). They are available to speak to your club or arrange for a ShelterBox to be shipped to you to be displayed in your community.

You can make a donation in support of ShelterBox Canada online, or mail a cheque to: ShelterBox Canada, 159 Jane Street, Office 2, Toronto, ON M6S 3Y8. You can also make donations by phoning 1-855-875-4661.

Tax receipts will be issue for donations of $20 or more.

Global Grant Scholarships are another way that Rotary works to achieve peace and world understanding

Australia On Globe With Flag

In just a few days, Amy Smith will leave Edmonton’s winter behind for the near perfect climate of Australia’s Gold Coast, but it’s not the surfing that is drawing her to Brisbane.

She is going to Australia to begin a two-year program at the University of Queensland, which will lead to a masters of development practices. The opportunity to continue her studies was made possible by a Rotary Global Grant Scholarship.

These scholarships are an example of how contributions to The Rotary Foundation support Rotary’s efforts to achieve peace and world understanding.

“Without this support from Rotary, I would have been unable to continue my studies,” says Amy, who already has a bachelor of arts in political science and native studies and a certificate in Aboriginal governance and partnerships from the University of Alberta.

As a result of her studies, Amy expects to learn, “practical skills to do international development projects. The program will give me tools to work with communities and analyze their needs.”

Amy has a long history of service, beginning in 2009 when she was one of a group of Calmar (Alberta) high school students who went to Belize. When they returned, their principal—himself a Rotarian—encouraged the students to form an Interact club. Amy was the founding president.

Since then, “Rotary has just been such a big part of my life,” Amy says. “I wouldn’t be where I am without Rotary. They believed in me.”

While a university student, Amy joined the University of Alberta Rotaract club, serving as its president during her final year. After graduation, she joined the Rotaract club of Edmonton.

As an Interactor and Rotaractor, Amy attended several District conferences and the 2010 RI Convention in Montreal, participated in a Rotary fellowship exchange to India and Adventures in Citizenship in Ottawa, and participated in and helped organize service projects to India, Belize and Costa Rica.

Last month, Amy helped organize and co-facilitated an Indigenous Awareness Session for Rotarians.

Scholarships supported by donations to The Rotary Foundation 

Dean Wood (RC of Edmonton Riverview), who chairs the scholarship subcommittee of the District’s Foundation Committee, emphasizes that the Global Grant Scholarship is one way in which Rotary works towards achieving its fourth object: “The advancement of international understanding, goodwill and peace.”

Information about Global Grant and District Grant Scholarships is available on the District website.

“The fundamental goal of the Global Grant Scholarships is to develop a core of people who will have capacity to provide leadership in peace and understanding,” Dean says.

“Over the years, there have been a substantial number of people who have been able to continue their studies as a result of receiving Global Grant Scholarships,” Dean says. “Each has develop of people around the world who are committed to the values of Rotary.”

There are three sources of funds for Global Grant Scholarships, the largest of which is the Rotary Foundation.

“These scholarships demonstrate the value of the contributions of individual Rotarians to the Foundation,” Dean says. “The dollars they contribute lead to these young people having these great opportunities to further the goals of Rotary.”

Other money for Amy’s scholarship came from the Nisku-Leduc Rotary clubs (the sponsor Rotary clubs) and several partner clubs (Edmonton Riverview, Westlock, Edmonton Whyte Avenue, St. Albert Saint City, Jasper and Brisbane High-Rise in Australia). The money contributed by individual clubs was then matched by the District.

Previous Global Grant Scholar learned about plight of those escaping danger and trauma

While several clubs supported Amy’s scholarship, the Rotary Club of Whitecourt was the only club to help fund a previous Global Grant Scholarship, which enabled Meghan Casey to continue her studies after graduating from the University of Victoria.

Meghan, who grew up in Whitecourt, studied at the University of Kent’s Brussels School for International Studies from 2015 to 2017. The focus of her master’s program was human right’s laws and international migration.

In an article published in Beyond Borders, the newsletter for Zones 24 and 32, Meghan wrote that during her studies she became interested in the plight of “vulnerable people [who] are forced from their homes and subjected to extreme danger and trauma in hopes of finding security.”

Both in the article and in a presentation she made during the District Conference held in

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Former Global Grant Scholar Meghan Casey speaks at the District 5370 Conference in Fort McMurray in September 2017

Fort McMurray in September, Meghan described spending several weeks in the fall of 2016 as a volunteer in the unofficial refugee camp in northern France known as “The Jungle,” that sprang up in 2015 during the European migrant crisis.

“At the time, it hosted some 10,000 people, many of whom were unaccompanied minors. Camp conditions were horrific. People lived in flimsy tents pitched in an old asbestos dumping site,” Meghan wrote.

“The French government refused to provide aid, and the organizations operating in the area struggled to provide for the growing population. In November, the French government executed an uncoordinated attempt to dismantle the camp. Some 1,000 children went missing, many of whom are suspected to have fallen in with human traffickers.”

Based on her volunteer experience in The Jungle, Meghan decided to approach her studies from a different angle when she returned to Brussels for the final year of her master’s program.

“I wanted to address the increasing gap between official policies on paper and what actually happens on the ground,” she wrote. “I researched the implications of a particular EU policy for migrants and asylum seekers transiting through Turkey to the Greek islands. I spoke with Greek lawyers and other volunteers operating in the camps to assess how the agreement with Turkey had been implemented.”

While writing her thesis, Meghan worked as a trainee at the European Parliament.

“Contributing to the legislative process was fulfilling, because it allowed me to put into practice the theoretical knowledge I had acquired during my studies. I was learning about the decision-making process from the top-down. I had seen how certain policies affected vulnerable populations, and now I was learning what factors influenced those decisions.”

Meghan appreciates the support she received from the Rotary Clubs of Whitecourt and Houthalen Midden-Limburg in Belgium, the District 5370 Foundation Committee and The Rotary Foundation, which allowed her to complete her studies.

“I have been able to challenge my own understanding of global human movement by attending various courses, training sessions and conferences. Learning from experts in the field, including NGO personnel and academics, was an incredible experience that allowed me to re-conceptualize how I view the topic of migration in Europe and North America. Rotary’s support has allowed me to advocate for a more positive portrayal of migrants in politics and the media, which ultimately affects how they are welcomed in their new communities.

“Without the support of my community, local and district Rotary clubs, I would not have had the opportunity to engage in so many diverse and challenging opportunities, which have ultimately shaped me into the person I am today and will be in the future. Thank you, Rotary Foundation!”

You can help provide opportunities for other young people to further their studies related to peace and understanding with the support of Global Grant Scholarships when you donate to The Rotary Foundation.

The Rotary Foundation: Rotarians advancing world understanding, goodwill, and peace

District 5370 Rotary Foundation chair Wayne Kauffman (RC of Edmonton Riverview) has experienced first-hand how donations from Rotarians to the Rotary Foundation can make a difference.

In 2007, he witnessed the installation of a water system that continues to deliver safe drinking water to 85 homes in a village in northern Ecuador.

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Rotary Foundation chair Wayne Kauffman speaks to members of the Rotary Club of Edmonton South

With money from the Rotary clubs of Edmonton South, Grande Prairie and Edmonton Riverview, along with grants from the Alberta Wildrose Foundation and the Rotary Foundation (a total of $72,000), a 4.2-kilometre pipeline was laid to bring water from the source, 1,500 metres above a chlorination station in the village.

Every family in the village participated in the project by digging a section of the trench for the pipeline. They continue to contribute to the system’s upkeep, based on each family’s consumption.

“As a Rotarian, I take a lot of pride that clean water still flows in that community and kids are not getting sick from drinking the water,” Wayne said during a recent presentation, one of more than 30 that he and grant subcommittee chair Wayne McCutcheon (RC of St. Albert) have made to Rotary clubs since 2015.

Wayne Kauffman: “We can do more!”

For Kauffman, there’s a simple theme to these presentations: “We can do more!”

By more, he means that more Rotarians can donate to The Rotary Foundation and those who already support it can increase their contributions, which in turn will mean that more money will be available to support local and international projects.

TRFlogoDuring the 2016-17 Rotary year, Rotarians in District 5370 contributed $341,504 to the annual fund, which exceeded the District’s 2016-17 goal by 133 per cent. This translates to an average of $156.15 from each Rotarian in District 5370.

But only about half the Rotarians in District 5370 contributed to the foundation, a figure Kauffman would like to see increase. He wants to help Rotarians “understand why it’s so important that we all give to The Rotary Foundation.”

He points to the fourth object of Rotary International: “The advancement of world understanding, goodwill and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.”

“How do we do it?” he asks, before answering his own question. The Rotary Foundation, the purpose of which is to “enable Rotarians to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education, and the alleviation of poverty.”

He is disappointed that there are clubs within the District from which no donations were received last year.

On the other hand, there are clubs where 100 per cent of the members donate to the foundation and where, on average, Rotarians are donating hundreds of dollars. The top clubs, based on per capita donations during 2016-17, were:

Edmonton South ($478.43)

Fairview ($365.57)

Whitecourt ($362.08)

Wayne McCutcheon’s role is to “help you spend money”

While Wayne Kauffman focuses on raising funds for the Rotary Foundation, Wayne McCutcheon looks at the foundation from a different perspective. “My role is to help you spend money,” he says. “I’m available to help clubs apply for grants.”

After three years, half the money donated to the annual fund is returned to the District to support local and small international projects. For 2017-18, $101,000 was available for District grants (half of the $202,000 donated to the foundation from District 5370 in 2014-15).

Grants of $3,500 each were awarded to 41 clubs this year, to help fund projects. These funds were combined with funds raised by the clubs themselves, and in some cases, grants from the federal and provincial governments to implement projects.

The window to apply for 2018-19 District grants opens following the Spring Leadership Training (April 6 and 7). The deadline for applying is May 31, 2018.

The application form is available on the District website.

PresCitation#1_ TRFYou can donate to The Rotary Foundation Canada by cheque or online. Click here to donate online or send your cheque to:

The Rotary Foundation Canada
c/o 911600,
PO Box 4090 Stn A
Toronto, Ontario M5W 0E9

Contact information:

Wayne Kauffman, Foundation Committee Chair (780) 464-6043 wkauffman@shaw.ca

Wayne McCutcheon, Chair District/Global Grants

(780) 850-0698 wsm@shaw.ca

 

Register today for the 2018 Rotary International Convention in Toronto, June 24-27, 2018. Registration fee increases after December 15, 2017.

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