February-March 2023 | Features

Investing in the future

Investing in the future

The Rotary Foundation Scholars average between 200 and 300 each year, all travelling to various destinations in order to expand their knowledge and take opportunities they would not otherwise have.

Do you ever get that feeling when Global Scholars are introduced that somewhere in your mind you think ‘over privileged, over funded and over here’? Well, it’s time to get over it!

Talk with and listen to these young people and you will find such diversity of background both financially and culturally – you will find bright searching minds, wanting to make a difference in the world – wanting to help humanity!

There are between 200 to 300 scholars each year across the world, the largest group – approximately 50%, arrive in the UK, and of those, half come to London because of the fantastic reputation of the capital’s universities, as well as to experience life in London.

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Interestingly, the United States accounts for 40% of scholarships, but only 20% choose to go to the US to study. There’s no doubting the scholars’ academic abilities studying at prestigious establishments such as the London School of Economics, University College London, King’s College London, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, but what of their knowledge of Rotary and where do the students see their involvement in the future?

Last October, 28 Global Scholars in District 1130 (London) and three Global Scholars hosted by District 1260 (Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire) had an orientation day in London. This was an opportunity to ask those questions which we all want answers to.

Frank questions often get frank answers! Such as: does this opportunity make any difference to their careers, and could they have got this elsewhere? What are their aspirations career-wise, and where do they see their connection with Rotary developing? Does Rotary have a place in the future, both in the community and in their lives?

Their answers were surprisingly personal. Financially, some students could not have accessed further education in their chosen field without Rotary’s help, for some this was a fantastic opportunity to gain knowledge and connections that would help them further their passion in areas of healthcare, conflict resolution and international relations – the list is long.

Frank questions often get frank answers! Such as: does this opportunity make any difference to their careers, and could they have got this elsewhere?”

All were passionately committed to gaining and using skills to help others.

What of Rotary? As you would expect, all were complimentary of what Rotary is doing, but reassuringly, most said they would become Rotarians, and that their sponsoring clubs and districts were already encouraging them to do so.

A few students hoped that they would be invited to join – so there is a message to sponsoring clubs and to ourselves, once these amazing young people finish their courses, ask.

The Rotary Foundation – is all about investing in the future!

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