Rotarians gather for an outdoor social. From left, Steve Smith, Scott Hynek, Brenda Blond and Steve Wight. Submitted

BETHEL — World Peace and Understanding Day for the Rotary Club commemorates the 114 years of Service Above Self, according to the Rotary International website. According to Michele Varuolo Cole, assistant district governor of the Rotary Club in Bethel, “the first Rotary meeting was held by Paul Harris and business associates in Chicago on Feb. 23, 1905,” which is why it is celebrated in February. According to the Bethel Rotary website, there will be a remote dinner on Feb. 22 to commemorate the day.

Club Foundation Committee Chair Steve Wight explains that for the Rotary Club to further understand what it means to have world peace and to understand what is going on across the world, they have speakers who talk about how they are promoting world peace.

Rotary members also focus, “specifically on getting people to places where they can learn to become proponents of peace in various parts of the world,” says Wight. “I particularly like to go on trips to other countries so that I can show people that I take with me that as well.”

The Rotary Club holds fundraisers for young adults so they can have the opportunity to travel where they want to in the world and make a Service Above Self impact. Wight explains that this is part of the process of understanding what is going on in other parts of the world while learning how the other half lives.

“It’s a day to celebrate world peace and understanding and to hear from various people around the world about the activities that are going on,” says Wight.

To further show their appreciation for world peace and understanding, the Rotary club has two different peace scholarships – one a peace scholarship and the other a peace grant.

“…what was the thinking behind the International Peace scholarship,” muses Claudia Frost, next year’s District Governor for the Rotary Club in Bethel. “It’s hard to get at peace directly. I mean, there’s a lot of things that Rotary does… when you put water into a community that doesn’t have it, that helps with peace. The peace scholars were helping young humans to be peaceful and to change the world. And that’s, I think, kind of what we’re looking for. That’s the objective behind these peace scholars.”

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