Rotary International’s motto and logo this year reflects the connections that Rotary makes around the world. Helping us define the reach of “Rotary Connects the World” were special guests: Rotary District 6960 Assistant Governor/Area 3, Richard Hall and San-Cap Rotary sponsored returning Exchange Student from Taiwan, Ian VanDevelde, pictured left.
Each Rotary year our incoming Rotary International President tries to summarize their personal thinking on how Rotary can continue and expand the work that Rotary does around the world by deciding on an inspirational motto and theme that is presented to all Rotarians and helps reflex, define, and motivate Rotarians. This year’s Rotary International motto is “Rotary Connects the World”. RI President, Mark Maloney received his inspiration through personal service, travel, and experiences with Rotary and the effects Rotary’s work has when Rotarians connect to resolve humanitarian problems and challenges.
Assistant Governor, Hall outlined some of our own District 6960 on-going projects connecting with other Rotary Clubs through partnering opportunities that have proven to be amazingly successful in helping others around the globe.
GIFT OF LIFE, FLORIDA – GIFT OF LIFE is a Rotarian-based non-profit organization whose initiatives are supported by 274 Rotary Clubs and 61 Rotary Districts providing care to children with heart disease throughout the world. In particular, ROTARY GIFT OF LIFE, FLORIDA helps to support projects in several countries (Jamaica, El Salvador, Haiti, etc) that have established training programs for heart surgeries to be able to perform more heart operations for young children.
WHEELCHAIR FOUNDATION through a gift of a wheelchair Rotary provides mobility, independence, freedom and hope to people in need. Our Rotary District concentrates on distribution points in the Caribbean and Central and South America.
SHELTERBOX – Rotary partners with ShelterBox USA to help devastated communities throughout the world. Shelterbox provides emergency shelters and other essential items to support families who have lost their homes in disaster including those in the states. Rotary and ShelterBox continues to expand cooperation efforts through preparedness training and stockpiles of prepositioned aide in disaster-prone regions.
END POLIO NOW ROTARY has been working to eradicate polio for more than 30 years, and we’ve made incredible progress in the fight to rid the world of it forever. Rotary helped to reduced polio cases by more than 99.9 percent. Rotarians have helped immunize more than 2.5 billion children against polio in 122 countries. If all eradication efforts stopped today, within 10 years, polio could paralyze as many as 200,000 children each year.
CLEAN WATER – Through water, sanitation, and hygiene programs that mobilize resources, form partnerships, and invest in infrastructure and training that yield long-term change throughout the world.
EDUCATION – More than 775 million people over the age of 15 are illiterate. Rotary’s goal is to strengthen the capacity of communities to support basic education and literacy for children and increase adult literacy is on-going.
YOUTH EXCHANGE –Rotary Exchange students unlock their true potential to: develop lifelong leadership skills, study a different language and culture, build lasting friendships with young people from around the world, and become a global citizen.
A perfect example of that is our own returning Sanibel-Captiva Rotary sponsored exchange student to Taiwan, Ian VanDevelde. I think Ian told us there were 7 Rotary Exchange students from all parts of the world studying in Taiwan this year. The program presents a regular educational experience but promotes cultural and fun activities, beyond that. The first activity Ian and his fellow Rotary exchange students participated in was a “Coming of Age Ceremony” celebrating a person becoming an adult at 16. Ian took part in the ceremony as part of the drum core. The drum core practiced for four weeks together and created a close bond and soon developed a core group of friends that traveled throughout the small country on their own or on sponsored Student Exchange trips. They traveled to Buddhist temples throughout Taiwan and took part in a two-hour meditation event up on a mountain on the north coast of the country. They made a point of visiting many of the beautiful waterfalls on Island and cliff jumping. On one adventure through Taiwan, Ian got the distinct honor of being asked if he would like to volunteer to take part in a traditional “God of Prosperity” ceremony in Taitung City. Little did he realize what was in store for him. “Every year, a local man is chosen to act as a surrogate for Lord Handan, a Taiwanese deity associated with wealth and prosperity who is believed to fear the cold. The people of Taitung City take turns to bombard the ‘god’ figure with firecrackers in an effort to warm him up and thus earn his blessings for the year ahead. “internet Whoops! Ian was given some shorts to wear and hoisted onto a platform and standing up and holding on to some kind of small structure was carried about the square on the shoulders of about eight men, while firecrackers were thrown at him. The video of this was scary.
Ian didn’t say much about his studies, but I think this is because he is extremely smart and that was not an issue.
Ian summed up his Rotary student exchange experience as an outstanding year of growth. He took advantage of the program, experienced a different world culture and gained experiences to build on in the future.