Social networking expands Rotary horizons
Tim Mason and Karin Sköld became Facebook friends, then lead their clubs to form a twin relationship. Facebook has made his Rotary experience more international, says Mason. Photo courtesy Karin Sköld
Two Rotary clubs, in England and Sweden, have discovered the power of social networking to transform their Rotary experience.
Tim Mason, secretary of the Rotary Club of Swindon, Wiltshire, England, turned to Facebook for international fellowship. Limited by time and finances from traveling as much as he would like, he was encouraged by the prospect of making new friends in other countries and learning about their cultures.
Mason became Facebook friends with Karin Sköld, secretary of the Rotary Club of Degerfors, Sweden, whose club had discussed using the social network to reach young people and make new contacts.
"Some of our Rotarians were very suspicious about it at first," recalls Sköld. "Then one day I got a friend request from Tim Mason, and I felt very happy. Now the big adventure started: to get friends all over the world."
Mason's club had a twin club in the Netherlands more than a decade earlier, so he proposed the idea of forging a twin relationship between the Swindon and Degerfors clubs. The leaders of both clubs enthusiastically embraced the idea.
"Having a twin club encourages us to meet together and get to know each other," explains Mason. "It's more involved than just partnering together on a project. We want to build an ongoing relationship -- get to know each other's cultures, how Rotary works for them."
Mason and two other members of his club visited the Degerfors club in August, and members of the Swindon club plan to attend the District 2340 Conference in November. Sköld says members of her club hope to visit Swindon next year.
The two clubs are also in the early stages of planning a Rotary Youth Exchange for soccer players (Degerfors is known for the sport and has a soccer museum), and they hope to partner on environmental projects as well as efforts to promote Rotary's campaign to eradicate polio.
In addition to finding a twin club, both Mason and Sköld have connected with many other Rotarians around the world through Facebook. Mason says the site holds vast opportunities for Rotarians to broaden their horizons.
"We now live in a global world," he says. "Sometimes you can get stuck in your own rut. Facebook really opens things up.
"It's given me a chance to meet lots of Rotarians in other countries and learn what they are doing, and that makes Rotary so much more exciting to me," he adds.
"Social networking is real power, and it's important to use it in the right way," says Sköld. "It's fantastic to have a twin club and friends in Swindon. And it's fantastic to have friends in Argentina, Brazil, India, Egypt, Italy, and all over the world."
Mason says he encourages his contacts to become fans of Rotary on RI's official Facebook page.
Learn more about RI's official social networking groups.