Service and Rotary Friendship Exchanges: growing from meaningful experiences

By Camille Ronzio, member of Rotary Club of Eugene Southtowne, OR, USA, and District 5110 Rotary Friendship Exchange Chair

What happens when we incorporate service into our Rotary Friendship Exchanges? Last year we began incorporating half day service projects into our Rotary Friendship Exchanges.  Rather than just observe how our Rotarian friends exemplify Service above Self in their communities, we decided to take action jointly carry out our founding principles during exchanges.

HeadstartEarlier this year, when a visiting Rotary Friendship Exchange team from District 3010 (Delhi, India) arrived in Eugene, Oregon (USA), we took them to a public preschool program called Head Start where the Eugene Southtowne Rotary Club has been volunteering for the past four years.  Our guests helped us read to the young students and distribute books for each child to take home.

When our District 5110 team goes to India to visit our guests, we will participate in a polio vaccination program to help immunize children against Polio.

Last Rotary year while our exchange team was in Romania/ Moldova, we incorporated service components throughout our entire stay. Trip highlights are included below (with a full recap available online):

  • ShoesWe visited the Deborah House, a home for women rescued from sex trafficking and violent situations. The founder and director of this program is a Rotarian in the local club and host an RFE couple. She mentioned the house needed summer athletic shoes for the girls they served. We immediately went shopping and then presented each girl with a pair of shoes.
  • Local Rotarians from Timisoura identified a park project where many children from an apartment house played. The park had many pieces of unsafe equipment.  Unfortunately, the project was still waiting for approval from the city when we arrived but our team collected money to help build a new play structure as part of the club’s park renovation efforts.
  • Our team visited a foster care facility in Sighteu Marmatieu for victims who had been in orphanages at an early age. A local Rotarian works with children from mass care facilities and places them in foster homes they can better care in a smaller group setting.  Several visiting Rotarians donated funds so the children could enjoy recreational activities including art projects and trips to a swimming pool in the summer. One Rotarian sent knitted scarves and caps to keep the children warm in the winter.

Later that same year, our new friends from Romania/Moldova came to visit us in the USA for another exchanged filled with fellowship and service. Together we hosted an art fundraiser using the talents of one of our guests, Rotarian Elvira Cemortan-Volosin. Elvira taught a painting class for children and generously donated her artwork for sale at an exhibit. Half of the proceeds went to a basic education and literacy Rotarian project in Moldova and the other half went to a Rotarian-led basic education and literacy project in Eugene.

ConstructionOver the past year, a number of our visiting teams helped us build homes for low-income families, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, here in Oregon. After one year of incorporating service projects during our exchanges, we have experienced many positive results: the shared experiences have made team members and hosts feel closer and build stronger bonds!  Making a difference and sharing service yields positive rewards that last beyond the exchange.  Try it!

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Author: rotaryservice

The Rotary Service Connections blog helps Rotarians plan effective and inspired service projects. If you have questions, comments, or story recommendations, contact us at rotary.service@rotary.org

8 thoughts on “Service and Rotary Friendship Exchanges: growing from meaningful experiences”

  1. Rotarians globally aren’t justo in g money and materials to the needy but also are always buoyant to give their talent to enri h the younger ones and entertain others in the community,Rotarian Elvira C-Olosin an artist from Moldova/ Russia helped led a painting class for preschool children when on a Rotary Friendship pro to the USA Oregon precisely,The children were elated and the community preschool gained from the proceeds of the artwork produced under the master s shepherd and the Rc of Eugene Southtowne who helped to host and organize the exhibition sequel to the art workshop,
    another thing that appeals to me about Fotary other than the gregariousness of Rotarians is that u Jaule opportunity that Rotary membership & boundless programs that enable individual Rotarian to think and expertly or creatively act on a useful or compassion impact idea or skill as if such initiative will not cost something,The like of TOM Henderson ,OBE thought of and relied hugely on the 1,2 million Rotarians when he first conceived the Shelter Box Rapid Relief Project To Respond to disasters worldwide,Spiritually speaking rather than wallow in low spirit due to anti- humanity here or ther I don’t think Rotarians kindness will not yield some blissful credentials at the next life,Who else are evidently tacitly committed and not as tit- for tat bargains?4/5/16,1240am

    1. h means Rotarians aren’t just giving money & materials but also enri hong others and the young ones with their talent & skills wherever whatever anywhere friendship and fellowship pick tent or these duo make it congenial

  2. Rotary can looking to stress. Reduction project infrastructure to reduce cardiovascular disorders

  3. I mean Rotary clubs of the future an look INTO stress reduction activities to achieve better optimal he’s
    Th care psychosocial ly

  4. I have been on a Friendship Exchange and we were taken to several projects that the local Rotarians were involved in but we didn’t participate, in hindsight in would have been great to do something with one of these projects. Interesting reading about the Exchange with Romania/Moldova, I was in both places just before my Friendship Exchange visit to Italy and tried to attend a Rotary meeting but after a couple of contacts it appeared that Rotary there goes on a summer break so no meetings were being held.

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