How I’m going to make a difference in the world-TAKE 2!!!

I think probably the most significant happening in my life over the last while has been being selected as a Rotary World Peace Fellow. I actually am still in shock about it. I remember in December I was in Tokyo at the Okura Hotel in Roppongi in a friend’s room when I got the call. All those months of putting the application together paid off when I received the acceptance news. I never ever imagined that I would be one of the few selected from around the world. Knowing that I’ll be going to the Universidad del Salvador in Buenos Aires, Argentina on a full scholarship is sometimes too much excitement for me to handle. Now I’ve begun preparing for it spending the last few months trying to come together with a plan to precede studies. Here is a nice article (on page 4) about me in a Rotary newsletter published by the district in Washington and BC. Wow, I think it sounds better than life! 

Looks like I’ll be going back to Tokyo for a few months. I really hope I’ll have a chance to participate on Peace Boat before I start my studies. How perfect would that be to volunteer on Peace Boat before embarking as a World Peace Fellow? The prestige and the honour of this scholarship are so much that sometimes I still wonder if it can really be true.

A couple weeks ago I went to an orientation in Kansas City, MO. It was for Ambassadorial Scholars. Since the orientation in Seattle overlaps my contract at the Japanese university, I went to the mid-west instead. I was so impressed with the quality of the other candidates. Being around such like-minded people was fresh and inspiring for me. After I got back home I wrote to everyone.

Subject: How I’m going to make a difference in the world-TAKE 2!!!

Greetings to my fellow peace and goodwill colleagues!

I imagine that you all made it back to your homes and
destinations. I am back in Vancouver after a bit of a
journey. Having the time to reflect a lot about the
orientation during that journey, I can firstly say
that I come back with a new understanding and
appreciation for this scholarship and for the Rotary
Foundation. So when you look back at the speeches you
made, do you ever think DOH! I should have added this
or talked about that?!?!?! I told you that I felt
Kansas City must be the most peaceful place in the
world. The joke aside, of course I was referring to
our enclosed week-end atmosphere being amongst such a
big group of like-minded people with a central focus
of peace and good-will. I felt a tremendous connection
with everyone involved (scholars, alumni and

I know that everyone had certain sessions that were
highpoints during the orientation. At the end, we
talked a lot about the polio eradication project,
about past alumni experiences in the region, about
life outside of the USA, about what Rotarians expect
from us etc… I know during our final dinner, the
pressure was on to prove how we are going to make a
difference in the world. I think that is probably the
most important question we explore before we embark on
our adventures.

I think back to Tom Thorfinnson session on the
Rotary programme. Some of us talked about this
question of funding and building wells rather than
supporting scholarships. I think we all have asked
ourselves what makes us an equal priority to those
eight wells that could have been built? How we can
make our upcoming experiences more than a photo album
of castles and sights? That was my biggest thought en
route back to Vancouver on Sunday. My hope and my
prediction is that all of us will prove ourselves as
worthy over the course of our lives. Development
projects building wells have been a cornerstone of
humanitarian aid since the beginning. They often
provide results of enormous change in communities and
regions. As Tom told us, in one village the children
stopped dying. How can this even begin to equate us in
the same funding pool? Well after spending the
week-end with you, I believe that we are on our way to
proving that we are indeed worth the investment.

There is one “urban legend” of a well from the field.
At a time when organised international humanitarian
projects were in their pioneer, a group went to a
village in Africa where a community had spent their
lives walking several kilometres a day to pack water
in pots. A well was built with the intention of
improving the community and allowing them to spend
more of their efforts in their village. The builders
left the village. Some time later the village was
empty. The residents had died when a drought happened
and they were no longer capable to locate the water
sources that they had been using for centuries. That
story is sometimes used when demonstrating the notion
of capacity building and the fundamental necessity of
its inclusion in development project planning. The
concept of building wells in areas that have problems
with water access is perhaps one of the noblest acts
of goodwill. However, building a well is not always
enough. You can give a hungry person a fish that can
then eat for a day. You can teach that person to fish
who can then eat for a lifetime. We have the
opportunity to learn and to teach. I believe that the
wells and the scholars go hand-in-hand. We serve as
tools that can promote capacity building in all forms
of humanitarian assistance. One person can initiate a
chain that can become infinite. Whether it is Andy
using art and media as a method of international
understanding, Vanessa empowering Latino groups in the
US, Katarina influencing high-end tourists with the
highest levels of income and power, Sunanda teaching
engineering to students in Sri Lanka or Stela
promoting peace in Central America through her
experience in Bosnia, we all have some type of unique
ability to be an agent of change. I was astounded by
the pool of talent and diversity. I believe that we
can all use our experience for humanitarian purposes
and create a chain of capacity building throughout
every area in the world. Rotary can build wells and
can help us to teach others how to create and maintain
them. I hope that when Tom tries to convince clubs and
districts to provide money for the foundation, he can
believe in the fact that one aspect can really work
without the other. I believe that we are well worth
this investment and that the eight wells being
sacrificed for us can potentially be 10000 wells to

I am so excited to have met you and am always a big
promoter of social networks via e-mail. Please stay in

Best of luck and peace!
Raymond ~~~

Last week  I participated in a full day interview with 15 other candidates for a programme superviser position with Canada World Youth. Although it seemed like it was going to be a bit of a competitive day, it actually turned out completely opposite to what I expected. Discussing issues, doing activities and using creativity, everyone bonded quite quickly and really supported one another in the common attempt to get hired by this NGO. Once again I found myself in a network of very like-minded people with similar goals and experiences. Being so fortunate to be part of these two groups has really opened my eyes to the presence of such a community around me.

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One thought on “How I’m going to make a difference in the world-TAKE 2!!!

  1. MUAH!  and there you go….the eProps i promised.  i did not know BHS was the ISO code for the Bahamas.  i will study up on that!  hugs from ottawa 🙂

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