English Charm

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Check out the beautiful letter from Rotarian Colin, hand written and sent by mail:

Rotary Club of Tooting

See you on Monday, Tooting!



Steam Lorrey

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So, little did I know what I signed up for with the Cuckfield Procession!

Rotarian Jim, his wife Jean, and I got the steam lorrey ready for the procession, waxing and shining the beautiful “lorrey” dating back to the early 20s. Steam lorreys run on coal: an introduction from industrial times. This is one of only 30 steam lorreys remaining in the world!

Predeparture photos

Jim’s wife, Jean, and I, looking over photos.

And off we go!

My role was the fire “stoker”. I was mainly responsible for shoveling coal into the pit as Jim drove and directed the lorrey.

When we arrived in Cuckfield, we had a bit of down time waiting for the floats and town people.

In Cuckfield, elections for the mayor are an honorary position, that they receive by raising the most money for charity. Whoever wins is welcomed in as mayor through this procession!

Spiriting the 350 anniversary shirt from the Town of Mamaroneck

Greeting the crowds!

The beginning of the town festivities…

Crowning the new mayor

And preparing to return the lorrey to the shed.

Jim and I discovered that our passions, although they may seem very different, share common threads. My love for Madagascar’s culture and biodiversity is similarly rooted in bridging beauty from the past with the future.

Quite an adventure!


District 1250 Letter

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Ambassador Scholars 2011-12, D. 1250

This brochure was put together by Rotarian David Warwick, so the various clubs in the district can learn about the scholars and contact us for speaking events.

Check it out!


Weald & Downland Open Air Museum

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On the way to the District Governor’s Welcome dinner in Chichester, Rotarian Jim Hatfield and I took a detour at the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum to see the homes and lives of Sussex residents dating over the past 500 years.

These are Sussex sheep. Quite adorable, they pose a significant advert for farm life.

Another view of the Sussex sheep!

‘Bayleaf’ Wealden house from Kent, original to 1540 and a favorite of Jim Hatfield

Shire horses “off duty” from cart pulling and hard work.

Anyway, well worth the rain,


District Governor’s Welcome Dinner in Chichester

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What an incredible event!

In Chichester, approximately 130 Rotarians showed up to greet the new scholars and welcome us to District 1250. It was stunning.

The other inbound scholars, Yurika, Mina, and Risa are all from Japan, with a diverse range in character and interests.

Sharing first impressions, New York, and the scholarship

Q & A session

Visiting scholars with District 1250 Governor Duncan Anderson

Thanks Rotarian David Warwick for organizing such a wonderful night!


Meeting Personal Hero, Alison Jolly

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Dr. Alison Jolly, leading figurehead for Madagascar, began studying ring tailed lemurs in Madagascar’s spiny desert in the early 1960s. Since then, she’s become world famous for her work as a dedicated anthropologist, and leader for conservation, development and education.

Alison Jolly is happily married to Sir Richard Jolly, former head of UNICEF, who she attributes sparking her interest for children’s education in Madagascar. She’s leading new efforts to introduce picture books to the country, that have a dual purpose of introducing Malagasy children to both story books and their rare and unique biodiversity.

While in the developed world, children hear tales of Madagascar’s wildlife and ecological wonders, Malagasy children are much less likely. This is one of a series of new initiatives intended to change this reality and inspire active citizens through “natural pride”.

Find out more at: http://www.lemurreserve.org/akoproject.html

Meanwhile, I met Alison Jolly to discuss my studies at the University of Sussex. We exchanged ideas regarding education in Madagascar. The stark reality is bleak (http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?ReportId=92235), however, the focus on sustainability remains critical. The future for Madagascar is dependent on the future of resources, and prioritizing education that prepares children to develop sustainable livelihoods is critical. What looks hopeful is the new awareness and desire of UNICEF and other organizations to begin addressing these challenges. Alison Jolly will leave to Madagascar in upcoming weeks to discuss these new developments.

I was welcomed to the Jolly’s home with tea and cake, alongside both Alison and Sir Richard Jolly. Occasionally, it dawns on me how surreal these experiences really are, and then I move along. Because there’s still much to do, and it certainly involves all of me.

Off for now,


Scholar Link Weekend in Stafford.

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After diving into my first English talk (at host club, the Rotary Club of Lewes), I headed north to meet about seventy other scholars studying in the UK.

England’s history is deeply rooted.

Between Rotarians, I’m already getting a well-rounded English education…

In one week, I saw three castles, walked around two medieval villages, and wandered through shops dating back to the 1100s. Local Rotarians impressed us with historical knowledge, on everything from: major rebels, kings, queens, conflicts, imperialism, Darwin, regions and people, steam engines, the EU, and building materials. America, you are so young. It’s sinking in.

View from a castle in medieval Shrewsbury

Darwin’s “Quantum Leap”, Shrewsbury

“Iron Bridge”, World Heritage Site, 1776, first cast iron bridge built during the the Industrial Revolution spans the River Severn

Rotary scholars are incredible people. 

This weekend made me proud to be a scholar. It was my first time meeting other scholars from the US, and anyone studying in the UK. We all seemed to share a high goal for addressing critical needs, mostly in developing countries, with boundless passion.

Barn Dancing with the Rotary Scholars in Stafford

Great weekend- the dedicated work of Rotarians, especially Hilary Ball, made it that way.