Rotary Fellowships


By District Governor, Julie Mason

The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.  - CS Lewis

One of the core values of Rotary International is Fellowship and it is almost quaint and for some irrelevant, until you examine a definition of the word. The notion of “a friendly association with people who share one’s interests”, with words such as companionship, comradeship, friendship and mutual support, respect and liking, ensures that the nebulous nature of the word becomes clear.

It is obvious to me that fellowship features so strongly in successful clubs and sometimes is best seen in tough times or indeed at sausage sizzles! At the recent conference in Bendigo the positive feedback received was imbued with the notion of fellowship, being with like-minded people sharing experiences and having fun.

It is interesting to explore the notion of organised Rotary Fellowships, and to find that they are: international, independently organized groups of Rotarians, Rotarian spouses, and Rotaractors who share a common vocation or recreational interest. Rotary Fellowships give their members the opportunity to have fun, make new friends around the world, and enhance their experience in Rotary. It really all started 1947 when The Foundation established its first program, Fellowships for Advance Study, later known as Ambassadorial Scholarships. Now we have a Rotary Fellowship for almost anything you can think of…….wine, beer, yachting, sailing, cooking, four wheel drive, and the list goes on.

Having just returned from the Rotary International Convention, I was interested to find that, the International Fellowship of Convention Goers is an organised group of Rotarians dedicated to promoting and attending Rotary International conventions. The Fellowship encourages membership by all Rotarians who have attended at least one International Convention. However really anyone can join and if you are thinking of attending the next Convention in Atlanta maybe this is an idea to consider.

What an amazing experience it was to attend the Rotary International Convention is Seoul! This my fourth RI Convention and after attending Brisbane, Sydney and Bangkok I had some experience in seeing Rotary showcased at the highest level, but I have to say that Seoul was exceptional. The Walk for Peace after a visit to the Demilitarized Zone was especially relevant and the quality of speakers and entertainment throughout the Convention was excellent. I mean what can surpass dancing Gangnam Style with PSY whose father and grandfather are Rotarians! It was a delight to see Rosie Batty take her place on the world stage and speak so eloquently about Family Violence. Ian Risely had quite a presence in many ways throughout the Convention, as Co-Chair of the organizing committee and in his acceptance speech once formally introduced as RI President Nominee. He spoke of past Australian Presidents with respect and admiration with a special reference to Royce Abbey. I was so proud of the team of Young Leaders, Amanda Wendt, Nicole Lake, Rob Foran, and Himanshu Kaushik that represented our District and delighted to see that they introduced themselves to President Ravi! Amanda conducted a very successful Break out Session, How to Craft Experiences that Attract and Engage Members. The Welcome Festival, House of Friendship, attendance at the performance of the Korean Symphony Orchestra and catching up with friends old and new completed a memorable experience in this unique year for me.

If you are interested in hearing more about what goes on in District 9800 in relation to Rotary Fellowships or indeed if you would like to start a Fellowship, Leon Lewi from the Rotary Club of Keilor is your man. Check out his details in the District Directory.

Students who reside at International House in Parkville do form a special Fellowship and gain significant advantage from this fellowship. The Rotary Club of Melbourne was heavily involved in establishing International House, and every year graciously provides funds for a scholarship as does District 9800. So let me tell you about an opportunity to support students who come to study at Melbourne University and seek to stay at International House. At International House in 2016, 44% of the undergraduate students are from Australia and 56% come from a multitude of other countries around the world. Overall, the full cohort of undergraduates, graduates, residential tutors and academic visitors living at International House this year come from 40 nations! This means that together over 350 of the brightest students from Australia and overseas live in a collegial community that is devoted to academic success, intercultural understanding and personal growth. This though comes at a cost and many students miss out on this opportunity because their family cannot afford the costs associated with living at International House. An International House scholarship opens doors in unprecedented ways, making a University education and a unique residential college experience accessible and affordable for future generations of leaders and innovators. I wondered if your Club or indeed a Cluster would help transform the lives of disadvantaged students who otherwise would not have an International House or University experience. An annual pledge of even $500 would make such a difference. Interested clubs or individuals could contact Past District Governor Keith Ryall for more information.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It is not. And will you succeed? Yes indeed, yes indeed! Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed!  -  Dr Seuss


Enjoy Rotary as you are……. a Gift to the World.

Ubuntu: I am, because you are.

Julie Mason

District Governor

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