Why not have a Rotary Peace Fellow from North Central Washington?
With the rising level of political and social conflict that exists in our communities and the country, it would behoove us to put more energy into developing leaders who are skilled at bringing people together and discovering common ground.
When I heard that Wenatchee Rotary is looking for individuals in North Central Washington who are interested in applying for the Rotary Peace Fellowship, I was interested in learning more. The fellowship allows an individual to receive practical and academic training to earn a professional development certificate or a master’s degree in peace and conflict resolution.
In a country that is so divided with political parties entrenched in conflict, we need as many people as possible waging peace, as far as I am concerned.
I have long been a fan of the work that Rotary clubs and individuals do in building stronger communities both locally and globally. The Wenatchee Rotary Club, now celebrating its 100th year in the valley, has evolved over the years into a community-building powerhouse.
For example, it was the Wenatchee Rotary Club that stepped up to the challenge helping change public perception of WestSide High School from an attitude of dismissiveness and suspicion to one of appreciation for the amazing educational opportunities and a positive learning environment.
Because of Rotary’s work in mentoring students, providing financial support and sharing the success of WestSide, the community by and large sees the school as a valuable community asset. The multi-year effort helped the community overcome the division that was making it almost impossible to pass bond issues.
The club’s sponsorship of the Wenatchee High School Interact club has led to astonishing and almost inconceivable accomplishments by students, under the mentorship of advisor Jon Magnus. They funded a Habitat for Humanity build, for goodness sakes, funded a medical facility in Mali and other impressive contributions. The list of transformational projects the club has taken on is lengthy.
The Rotary Peace Fellowship is the next evolutionary step of the club seeking to find new and meaningful ways to make contributions to our communities and the world. I spoke with Rotary members Michelle Shermer and Susan Albert about this project. They told me that the club is one of a select few that have been designated as “peace builders” because of the club’s commitment to fostering conflict resolution. Albert pointed to the language of the fellowship as accurately describing the intent: “We see peace not as an abstract concept but as a living, dynamic expression of human development. Peacebuilding is a cornerstone of our mission as a humanitarian service organization.”
Everyone can be a peacemaker. in your community,” said Albert. “Peace itself… is more than just absence of conflict,” she continued. No one from North Central Washington has yet been awarded a peace fellowship, and Shermer and Albert are committed to changing that. “Rotary’s mantra “Service above self” and its four-way test, “Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?” eloquently speaks to a way of playing a constructive and positive role in the community and the world.
Rotary fellows study at one of seven Rotary Peace Centers at leading universities in Australia, England, Japan, Sweden, Uganda, the United States and Thailand. The fellowships cover tuition and fees, room and board, round-trip transportation, and all internship and field-study expenses.
To learn more about the program, applicants are encouraged to visit the Rotary Peace Centers website at www.rotary.org/rotarycenters.
Applications for the 2022-23 Rotary Peace Fellowship program are being accepted through May 15. Washington state residents who would like to apply are encouraged to contact wenatcheerotary.org for more information, mentorship and possible club endorsement. You can also contact shermer at email@example.com or via phone at 509-670-1305.
When it comes to conflict, we can choose to be part of the problem or the solution. Thanks, Rotary, for modeling this.