By Dr. Charles Grant, Rotary Club of North Shore (Houston), Texas, USA, and Chair of the International Fellowship of Rotarian Educators
Last year when I received the June issue of the Rotarian magazine, I noticed the listing of all the Rotary Fellowships. Before then, I wasn’t that familiar with fellowships, I thought they were just for Rotarians who were interested in the same hobbies like chess, golf, or yachting. I didn’t know there were vocationally oriented fellowships as well. I looked at the list and saw a few fellowships for professionals such as doctors, lawyers and police & law enforcement but I thought there were many missing, so I went on to Rotary.org to see if there were more and there weren’t. That’s when I decided I wanted to take action.
The last sentence on that page of The Rotarian encouraged those interested in forming a new fellowship to contact firstname.lastname@example.org and so I did. Zuhal Sharp, the Service and Networking Programs Specialist at Rotary International, helped start the process of forming a brand new fellowship for educators. To qualify, we had to have at least 25 interested members from three different countries. We had interested Rotarians from seven countries! During this time I met Maria Bossa from the Rotary Club of Río Tercero, Argentina, who is now our Fellowship Secretary.
Maria had been using Rotary Discussion Groups to exchange ideas and had started the Rotarian Educators group which has more than 200 members and is one of the most active groups in My Rotary! She always had the dream of transforming the group into a fellowship. Maria found out about my fellowship idea and contacted me telling me she wanted to get involved. Through our collaborative efforts, we were able to make Maria’s dream a reality.
At the start of the 2015-16 Rotary year in July, I met with Belinda Kaylani from the Rotary E-Club of Houston, USA, on her first day as District 5890’s Fellowship Chair to discuss the idea. She helped me get all the required signatures and documents for our proposal which was submitted and approved in December 2015!
The International Fellowship of Rotarian Educators was formed to promote quality education (both public and private) as well as training and development initiatives such as continuing education. We also hope to provide access to education, especially for girls, in many developing countries.
It is important to note that one does NOT have to an educator by trade to be a part of our fellowship. Anyone who has a passion for or interest in education is encouraged to join. Frankly, I don’t know of any Rotarians who aren’t interested in education. We all know that education is the key to a better quality of life! Contact me for more information.
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.