First Ever Rotary Peace Fellows Volunteer Training Team

1. Introduction

 

Rotary District 6060, Western Missouri hosted the first ever Rotary Peace Fellows Volunteer Training Team for three weeks in April 2014.
The team was made up of Peace Fellow alumni from around the world, and included Arik Ofir Gutler from Israel, Maria Celeste Morell from Argentina, Peter Paul Opata, Juliana Amal-Obonyo & Godfrey G. Mukalazi from Uganda, Noelle DePape from Canada & Mercy Shahale from Kenya (A non-Rotary Peace Fellow guest trainer).

 

  
Fellows with Foundation Trustee, Paul Netzel & wife Diane and DG Kate


 

 

With the support of the Rotary Foundation, the fellows attained their Masters degrees from the various Rotary Peace Centers hosted by universities around the world. These include Bradford University (UK), University of Queensland (Australia) & International Christian University (Japan).

During the period under report, the fellows visited and interacted with selected middle and high schools students, as well as Rotarians within the areas. Through their school workshops on anti-bullying and peacebuilding, the Peace Fellows interfaced with approximately 800 students from 25 schools, and one adult community in Louisiana.

 


The community areas included; Sikeston, Jackson, Farmington, Louisiana, Mexico, Wentzville, Troy, Lindbergh, Warrenton, and Van Buren. In addition, Peace Fellows spoke about their work of Peacebuilding in Conflict and post-conflict areas while engaging with university students at Washington University, some radio stations within the areas visited, at Community Forums, in local Rotary Clubs and with Rotarians at the District Conference.

 


 

 

2. Rationale for Vocational Volunteer Training Team


To create awareness about the use of peacebuilding tools & approaches to bullying in target schools in the state of Missouri.Goals:

  1. To provide information to Rotarians in Missouri about the existence and value of the Rotary World Peace Fellowship Program
  2. To create a platform for experience sharing by Rotary Peace Scholar alumni with students and Rotarians related to their work in peacebuilding across the world

The basis on which Rotary Peace fellows were selected to partake in this programme was grounded in the different professional skills and context experiences (lenses) in understanding conflicts, which was required to objectively be applied to the Eastern Missouri local contexts. 

The team has proposed that if the schools wish to continue this work and see a change, there is need for a concerted effort from all community stakeholders to adopt on-going training, support & long term investment for the students, parents, teachers and administrators around anti-bullying.
This is also where the local Rotary clubs could take an active community role in contributing and shaping an environment that makes it less likely for bullying with adverse negative impact to occur. 


District 6060 leaders are developing a continuation strategy to be utilized by the Rotary Clubs who were involved.  The goal will be to assist student leaders with implementing their suggestions regarding peace-building activities in their schools, and also to create community awareness and support of the students’ efforts.

 

The video is an edited version of the webinar with the participants of the project, moderated by RI Relations coordinator, Kathleen O’Brien.

Webinar on RPF VTT Anti bullying project: 38:54 min:

AFTER VIEWING PLEASE RETURN TO HOMEPAGE TO REGISTER YOUR ATTENDANCE AND TO  MAKE A DONATION

 

“….Rotary, as an important actor in these communities, could develop District wide or regional forums on anti-bullying activities where student leaders can participate. 

Rotary should also use the expert technical assistance from its large group of World Peace Fellows to assist with on-going training and support for anti-bullying activities.

Furthermore, many of the student leadership groups could be provided with small grants to start anti-bullying programs in their schools - which could have a large impact locally while building positive networks between Rotarians and engaged youth in their area.

Cyber bullying needs to be addressed at a higher level through the engagement of policy makers, with school administrators and community leaders at the forefront. 

Students and schools can suggest their own local ethical code for them to follow; adaptation of the legal framework including anti-cyber bullying legislation may be needed to ensure that cyber bullying is minimized. In addition, wide scale public awareness campaigns which could include highlighting the current resources available to assist with bullying in the state would ensure that a larger number of students benefitted from these services and educational tools.

An anti-bullying coalition that could include community members, parents and school staff, led by student leaders, could help to overcome the helplessness many youth are feeling toward bullying……”

As mentioned in the webinar, Godfrey is keen to hear from other Rotary clubs and Districts wishing to gain further information on this D6060 project.  The team is hopeful there will be further opportunities for projects of this nature.

Let me know your interest in getting involved!

Catherine Bonifant
International Service Director

 
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