By Franco Clemente, Rotary E-Club of Rom@.it and Chair of the Italian Culture Worldwide Rotarian Fellowship
My first encounter with Rotary Fellowships was in 1993 when the Magna Graecia Fellowship hosted their annual tour in South Italy. This was the first time I met Rotarians from around the world and enjoyed their fellowship. In 1994, I took part in the Italian Rotarian Ski Championship with my family, spending a week in the mountains alongside Rotarian skiers. In 1997, I joined the Yachting Fellowship (IYFR), launching the South Italy Fleet, and since then I have taken part in meetings all around the world, making friends with Rotarian sailors from everywhere: Hawaii, England, the Philippines and Spain.
I joined Rotary in 1992, and I almost immediately appreciated its huge global network. Along with that I appreciated the wide variety of Rotary Fellowships. I’ve been a member of many Fellowships, and I have participated as a guest in many events organized by other Fellowships. My family has always been involved in these activities, and I can say that Rotary Fellowships helped my daughters understand what Rotary really is, since in Italy we tend to be a little too formal and serious in our meetings.
I was among the founders of the Italian Culture Worldwide Rotary Fellowship (ICWRF) and I can say that this fellowship truly embodies the Rotary spirit. ICWRF originated from the common activities of a small group of Rotarians from different continents who met through Rotary exchanges and international projects, and for almost ten years had been using their friendships to support their own district’s international projects.
The ICWRF is open to all Rotarians, their spouses, Rotaractors and Rotary alumni to be used as an international service network for those interested in Italian culture, living abroad, and meeting Italian Rotarians. ICWRF’s purpose is to promote collaboration among various cultures, people and countries, using the Rotary network for better understanding how different cultures adapt and integrate with each other, and paying particular attention to immigration problems and fostering international understanding.
Since the formation of ICWRF, my Rotary life has changed, as has my personal life. On one hand, I had a new means of getting in touch with old Rotarian friends, often met through other Rotary Fellowships. I have led quite an unconventional life. I have lived in many different countries, and I have always been grateful to Rotary for the opportunity to make so many friends, and to serve locally with them. Unfortunately, changing jobs and changing countries, I have lost touch with a lot of them.
I had the incredible pleasure of being contacted by young Rotarians from London, England and Tirana, Albania who formed new ICWRF teams in their nations. These teams included friends of mine who I hadn’t seen for years but they recognized my name and got in touch with me. I’ve been living in the Arabian Peninsula for the last three years – the last two in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), where Rotary is currently not present – and believe me, it was very good getting in touch with so many new friends, and being able to serve, even from the remote KSA. Miracles of Rotary!
Every year the Italian Culture Worldwide Rotary Fellowship (ICWRF) observes the Day of Remembrance on 8 August to concentrate our actions on celebrating immigration and analyzing common and shareable roots to better understanding different cultures. Contact me to learn how you can get involved.
Throughout the month of June, we’ll be celebrating Rotary Fellowships Month by sharing inspirational services stories from various Rotary Fellowships. We hope these stories inspire you to join or start a Rotary Fellowship.