COVID-19 temporarily derailed our in-person exchange programs like Friendship Exchange, Youth Exchange, Group Study Exchange, and Vocational Training Teams. The personal connections made through these face-to-face interactions were invaluable in building trust and peace between peoples of various nationalities. While vaccines and treatments have eased the threat COVID posed, there are still health concerns. Peacebuilding through virtual exchanges is among R.I. President Gordon McInally’s initiatives for this year.
One of the few good things to come from the pandemic was the accelerated development and adoption of technology for virtually interacting with others physically distant from ourselves. In light of the health and financial challenges of exchanges, we are encouraged to incorporate virtual components into our districts’ exchange programs, events, and activities. These easily accessible and affordable tools allow us to expose our club members and exchange participants to other cultures and the “international” aspect of Rotary International, afford those unable to travel with these exchange opportunities, and continue to build international good will and understanding. For some clubs, these exchanges were the most visible product of their donations to The Rotary Foundation, and their absence from view make the impact of their donations less and less relatable.
Read more about how to start or expand your virtual exchanges by downloading this flyer on Building Peace Through Virtual and Hybrid Exchanges.