Rotary & My Experience at the United Nations

Rotary Day Outside the United Nations

Let there be peace on earth.

Back in June, I had a cup of coffee with a woman I met through a networking group. She would be speaking at a local Rotary International meeting, and invited me to come as her guest. I had no idea what the heck Rotary was. Curious, I attended the meeting and that began my introductory to the organization.

Rotary seemed like a great fit for me. Humanitarian work is something I’ve always been passionate about. They do a lot of service work in local communities and on a global scale. Rotary is also a great opportunity to meet other business professionals. In September, I made it official and they inducted as a member.

A few weeks ago fellow Rotarian got tickets for Rotary Day at the United Nations and invited me to join. What an honor it was to attend! Since I’m still pretty new to this organization, I didn’t quite know what to expect. I hopped on the bus at 5AM and made my way to New York City with other members of my district. When we arrived at the UN, we joined hundreds of other Rotarians from across the country and around the world.

Inside Rotary UN Day

Service above self.

Rotary International and the United Nations have a long history of working together. According to it’s website, “Rotary holds the highest nongovernmental consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.”* Did you know that?? I didn’t!

The person who made the greatest impact on me at the U.N. is a woman named Stephanie Woollard. Stephanie shared a story of her experience starting a non-profit business in Nepal called Seven Women. What struck me the most was when she was just beginning her journey ten years ago. She asked her mother if it was possible for one person can make a difference. With the support of her family and others she was able to build successful business and impact over 5,000 women in Nepal through skills training and income generation programs. To answer her own question, yes, one person can make a difference- with the support of many others.

I attended two breakout sessions that I could relate to the most: The Rise of Social Business, and Women, Enterprise and Development. Stephanie was a panelist for the the second session. Here, she was able to go more in depth about her non-profit and how her organization empowers marginalized women in Nepal. I am so inspired by how she saw a need and acted upon it, rather then thinking or hoping someone else would do it. Listening to Stephanie is confirmation to me that I should start my own business one day that serves the marginalized and less fortunate in my country. I don’t know exactly when it will be, but it will happen. She also reminded me that success doesn’t always happen overnight. It takes time, dedication, and surrounding yourself with people who want you to succeed.

John Germ, president of RI
^ The current president of Rotary International,  John Germ

Stephanie Woollard of 'Seven Women'
^ Stephanie Woollard speaking during the spotlight panel.

Outside the U.N.

I want to thank my local Rotary Club for inviting me to take part of this amazing experience. For more information about Rotary International, visit their website. In addition, you can also see where your local organization meets or join an e-club.

To hear Stephanie’s 4 minute speech during the opening session, scrub to 1:48 at the video below.


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