Education and Literacy Team to India

“Education is the most powerful weapon which we can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela

Back on October 11, 2013 , I was reading a message about a Rotary Vocational Training Team that was being planned to southern India.  It said:

Are you interested in an extraordinary 3-4 week Rotary Humanitarian service experience funded by your Rotary Foundation to Southern India Jan 20-Feb 14. 2014?  If so, this announcement is for you.  We are looking for 5 candidates (Rotarians and/or non-Rotarians) for a Vocational Training Team (VTT) exchange to Southern India’s District 2980.  The primary Rotary Area of focus of this exchange will be India’s number one priority – Basic Education and Literacy.   This VTT will establish a Vocational Training Center in India that will be supported by 5 Rotary Clubs.  We are looking for a variety of professionals who focus on PreSchool, High School and University education.  It is not necessary to speak their language, they will have interpreters as necessary and we will train you on their customs so that you will you be good ambassadors of Rotary.  

It continued to say in the message:

Service to Humanity is what we do in Rotary.  By participating in this service you are contributing to this year’s theme of “Engage Rotary, Change Lives” and you may be surprised that the life you change can be your own.

I thought about this for several days and decided to apply to be a member of the Team.

On November 16, 2013, I started my day reading my email.  This was after the interviews had been held and I had really given this experience serious thought.   I received the following message:

Congratulations on your selection to our 2013-2014 Vocational Training Team to India.

We will be providing vocational training to schools, colleges and the Vocational Training Centers managed by five Rotary Clubs in India.  I have been reading about southern India, reading more about Rotary Vocational Training Teams, and being excited about this experience since I was notified of my selection.    I am honored to be part of team that allow me to experience first hand Rotary at work  … on an Education and Literacy Vocational Training Team to INDIA.

Congressman Ruiz at Rotary Club

The speaker for the Rotary Club of Palm Springs on November 6, 2013 was Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D.  He was a great speaker.  After his remarks he was presented a ‘Paul Harris Fellow’ to exemplify how much we appreciate and recognize Dr. Ruiz‘ contributions to humanity.

He expressed appreciation to Rotary and our Club in particular, for its remarkable record of community service, saying he was privileged to be with us, and emphasizing that we are “all in this together” to help our citizens.

Doctor Ruiz, was a practicing emergency room physician before being elected to Congress last November.  He emphasized his focus on–and the importance of–providing constituent services.  He said that he and his staff have opened 669 cases, and so far 504 have been resolved.  These cases have primarily involved such matters as jobs, VA surgeries, veterans benefit backlogs, immigration, IRS conflicts.  But the majority have centered on military veterans’ issues.  He serves on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and also the Committee on Natural Resources.  Congressman Ruiz discussed the launch of his “Veterans Initiatives.”  He sees his role is to serve people and solve problems, not only through legislation.  Among his priorities  is to launch a “Veterans’ University,” which will soon help in assisting veterans and providing them with access to more jobs and services.

He commented on the extreme Congressional “gridlock” in Washington, adding that he has been successful in working “across the aisle” in a bipartisan way to help veterans and their problems.

Dr. Ruiz discussed our mutual social responsibilities, and emphasized how important it is to “forget politics and partisanship” to accomplish these goals.

The day’s event was especially meaningful since I had spent months trying to get Congressman Ruiz confirmed as a speaker.  After meeting with him and his staff at a reception a few months ago, I was able to get a date where he would be the speaker.  He is a good example of Service above Self  with his work in Haiti, his work as an ER Doctor, and his support for so many difference causes in the Coachella Valley.  It was indeed an honor for him to be the speaker today.

Seeing all the smiles and watching all the folks that attended the meeting today was confirmation that the hours spent in scheduling this very busy Congressman was worthwhile.  The meeting was a HIT!!!!

Another highlight of the day was being presented the ‘Benefactor’ Certificate and “wings”.   The presentation was meaningful and will always be a memory that I cherish.    I was asked to “Wear them proudly!    They are a sign of commitment to The Rotary Foundation and willingness to step up through Rotary to perform miracles!”

Rotary and Interact

I was asked to speak to the Interact Club at the high school about :   “What Is Rotary and Interact?”   It is always enjoyable to share with others especially about Rotary.

November 4, 2013  INTERACT   Palm Springs High School

Mission – The mission of Rotary International, a worldwide association of Rotary clubs, is to provide service to others, to promote high ethical standards, and to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through its fellowship of business, professional, and community leaders.

Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders who dedicate their time and talent to tackle the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.2 million members in 34,000 clubs doing good all over the world.  Rotary is in more than 200 countries and geographical areas.   Rotary’s work impacts lives at both the local and international levels, from helping families in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world. 

The Rotary Club of Palm Springs was chartered in 1941.  Projects include book giveaways to elementary students, Angel View Prom, senior citizen projects such as Change the Batteries.   Scholarships are provided annually to students, and financial support is provided to senior center, community arts organizations, and internationally for water and buses.

Interact: a service organization organized and sponsored by Rotary clubs for young adults aged up to age 18. There are more than 12,300 Interact clubs in 133 countries.

Interact is a club for youth up to 18 who want to connect with others in their community or school. Interact club members have fun while carrying out service projects and learning about the world. Interact clubs organize at least two service projects a year: one that benefits their community and one that encourages international understanding. While Interact clubs receive guidance from individual Rotary clubs, they govern and support themselves.

Rotarians contribute their time, energy and passion to sustainable, long-term projects in local communities across the globe. Projects focus on important issues like peace and conflict resolution, disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy and economic and community development.

Every Rotarian joins Rotary for his or her own reasons. Often, the reason someone decides to join isn’t the same as the reason that person ultimately decides to stay.