Rotary Centers have potential to change the world
Colin Spurway, a 2003-05 Rotary World Peace Fellow, during a recent visit to RI World Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, USA. Spurway, now a manager with BBC World Service Trust, spoke to regional Rotary Foundation coordinators about the Peace Fellowships program. Rotary Images/Monika Lozinska-Lee
The Rotary World Peace Fellowships program makes a difference.
Colin Spurway, a 2003-05 peace fellow, says the program equipped him to help make the world a more peaceful, just, and sustainable place.
Speaking to regional Rotary Foundation coordinators (RRFCs) during a training meeting in Chicago, Spurway thanked The Rotary Foundation for its support of the Rotary Centers for International Studies in peace and conflict resolution, and he urged the RRFCs to promote them.
"Only Rotary has the combination of financial capacity, internationalism, patience, and worldview to invest in something as imaginative, hopeful, progressive -- but intangible -- as peace," he said.
Spurway, a native of Scotland, added that peace is not a goal that can simply be checked off a list. "Peace is a continuing process. It is slow, long-term work."
In introducing Spurway to the RRFCs, Duane Sterling, Rotary Centers Committee member and aide to the RI president-nominee, suggested that the peace studies program receives less publicity than it deserves.
"The Rotary Centers come in right behind polio in priority," said Sterling. "But we are not giving it the kind of attention we need to be giving it. The program has one of the greatest potentials to change the world for generations to come."
Spurway studied at the Rotary Center at the University of Queensland and spent his fourth semester at the University of California, Berkeley.
"My experience of the fellowship was made particularly rich by the semester in Berkeley," Spurway told the RRFCs. "But I know that I speak for the overwhelming majority of alumni when I say that the fellowship has proven to be of great value after graduation."
After managing peace-building and development programs for international charities in South and Central Asia, Spurway now works for the BBC World Service Trust in London as a manager for international development projects in Bangladesh.
He said the peace studies program contributes substantially to Rotary's image. It is also a feather in the cap of the participating universities.
Eddie Blender, Rotary Centers Major Gifts Initiative chair, said US$40 million has been raised toward the goal of creating a $95 million endowment fund by 2015 to sustain the program.
Alluding to a famous speech that Robert F. Kennedy made at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, in 1966, Blender called the approximately 400 graduates of the program "our ripples of hope. With them and with our peace centers, peace is possible."