Although I know that I should be telling more about what is going on here in Amman, I promise that is to come. What I want to do first is talk about something that I love to talk about, getting people involved with Rotary. I don’t mean business level professionals and talking to them about the clubs and what they have to offer (I’m not quite qualified for that yet) but I mean getting youth involved, telling people my age about this scholarship, people younger about Youth Exchange and everyone about the World Peace Fellowship. This is the one time I think I will brag because it really brings me some of the most enjoyment, I can happily say that I have coerced/tricked/bribed (just kidding) at least three people to join Rotary’s extraordinary study abroad programs, one with Youth Exchange and the others with the Ambassadorial Scholarship. The real joke of getting people involved is that it is so easy. I talk about my scholarship for 30 seconds and people already want to sign up, this scholarship is so encompassing, so accommodating, and so useful in advancing its own goal of spreading world peace and understanding as well advancing each students ability to help those goals be achieved.
What I really wanted to talk about are the people who have recently discovered the Ambassadorial Scholarship, and let me tell you (as some may already know) the Ambassadorial Scholarship is the hidden gem of Scholarships and no one really believes me that it exists. So to explain this I have to explain my living situation first. This past semester I was living with two Ambassadorial Scholars, one had the Cultural Ambassadorial Scholarship for 6 months and has started his return home (currently in Morocco exploring a little) and the other has moved closer to where his internship is. I am planning on moving out at the end of this month (where I’m going and what I’m doing will be explained in a bit) and as so was looking for people to take the apartment. Well there just happened to be a group of Spanish friends of mine studying at the language center who were looking for a new place to live. So I’m currently living with 2 Spaniards (plus a third that is in apartment limbo). Well another friend of mine, and better friend of theres is a Jordanian student at the University of Jordan. He speaks perfect spanish, perfect english (with a slight british accent that makes feel like I have to comport myself in a proper fashion) and is studying italian (oh and obviously Arabic). He was studying and working as an aircraft mechanic but because of the economic situation decided it would be better to go back to school. I was about to go on about his amazing qualities and intelligence, but what I want to mention is why I love the Rotary’s scholarships. Here is a kid who is way more qualified than me in just about everything, very similar personalities and drive and could be successful in any career that he is placed in, so wheres the problem?
The problem is access to the outside world, this world is expensive and it doesnt cut any slack. The difference between me wanting to go do something and him wanting to do something, is unfairly tipped in my balance as a an American. For him just to come to the United States would be a very very very long process (unless you have lots of money). What I have come to notice while living and traveling abroad, and what really hurts me the most about the world we live in, is that the value of a human beings life is not the same everywhere. That race, origin, religion and language, dictate the value of a humans life more than personal qualities and characteristics, intelligence, creativity, and all those other things that we can work on and improve. Unfortunately on a simplified level, the largest obstacles and sometimes barriers to success are ones that people can not change (race, origin, religion, language). I could go on for pages with examples and stories and whatever more would flow out of my head, but what I want to mention are the organizations, the people, the places that break down these barriers and make anything possible, and also the fact the not everyone is chained down by this, that because, I believe, human drive and want is so strong, that people can and do achieve anything they desire.
I want to thank Rotary for being one of those organizations, Rotarians for being those people, that give other people the chance, the spark, or the necessary push to get to that next level. Peoples first thought is that this scholarship is only available to Americans, they say there’s no way that they would be able to get this. But thats not true, any one anywhere can receive this scholarship, and thats the beauty of it. It is true, that like everything else, its not fairly balanced. Depending on the earnings of a club/district there is a better chance of receiving the scholarship in some districts over others. The one I am in for example, which covers 9 countries and three continents, from Qatar and Egypt, to Cyprus, Lebanon, and the two newest members Armenia and Georgia. This huge district has had very few Scholars, most of them (maybe all) coming from Egypt and Lebanon. The issue is not so much of something being unjust, it is just the reality of the majority of the clubs being in Egypt and Lebanon and most importantly, the lack of students who have knowledge about the scholarship. This is where I come in, it is partly my job to tell Rotary Clubs what my Scholarship is (the majority don’t know) and also to tell students that this is available to them. So that is what I have been doing, I will be putting my Jordanian friend in contact with Rotaractors and Rotarians as well as giving as much info as possible on the program, not to mention the two Spaniards who now are very interested in the program and want to apply when they get home, (then comes up another issue, they speak no english). Honestly, the world is full of challenges, but facing those challenges is what makes us who we are.
Before ending this overly long blog, I want to mention two things. One is that I plan, one hundred percent to apply for the Rotary World Peace Fellowship after I graduate ( still one more year), it surprises me every time I think about the programs Rotary offers, I haven’t found an organization better at preparing me to be the better person I desire to be. The other is that, continuing with the fact that Rotary has encompassed everything I want to do, I discovered last summer DRAGG (Disaster Relief Rotary Action Group) which I think is truly amazing and is working all over the world helping victims of disasters, as well as currently being in Haiti. I have decided that I want my career to be in Post-Disaster organization, whether manmade or natural, working with the victims and the organizations coming in to help so as to make sure that needs coincide. Aid and help has always been there, but as we are seeing right now in Haiti, the hardest part isn’t always getting what is needed, its figuring out what is needed and getting it there quickly. With so many Aid organizations and groups sometimes well intentions cause more harm then good, I want to make sure that what is being done is most beneficial to those who need the help. And DRAGG seems to being doing just that and I will definitely get in contact with the organization when I get home. I should end this here so as not to scare anyone away from reading future blogs.
PS. I am sorry to make this longer but I have to mention that I just saw the new theme for 2010-11 “Building Communities- Bridging Continents.” I think that is an amazing call to boost programs like Youth Exchange, Ambassadorial Scholarships (all of them, even the Cultural Language study which is what I received and is now cancelled) as well as World Peace Fellows. In my eyes those programs are the way Rotary builds communities and bridges continents. I also see it as a call for clubs that are well off and comfortable (whether monetarily or with number of members) to reach out to clubs in other countries, many of these clubs are lacking support and confidence, and just saying that “Hey where here for you guys, you can do it” might mean way more than imagined.