D6990 Rotary Foundation Global Grant Scholar, Michael Matthiesen, October Update

All the ScholarsRotary London Scholars
In April 2014, the Rotary Foundation awarded a Global Grant Scholarship to Michael Matthiesen, who will spend a year studying at the University College of London. This prestigious grant was sponsored by Rotary District 6990 and matched 100% by the World Fund for a total of $30,000. Michael sends District 6990 news about his grant experience.

Hello again from London!

Rotary has kept October jam packed with exciting events. This month truly has proven to me that Rotary is an international organisation with such an amazing reach across the globe.

The Rotary Club of Kensington held a “Rotary Scholar’s Night” for all the London Scholars to become familiar with the members of the Kensington Rotary Club, and for the club to let all the London Scholars know that the Kensington Club is here if they need anything. The club’s current President is the youngest one I have met — a 23 year old business man from Wales who moved to London while attending university and found a job in London’s banking sector immediately after. The Kensington Club’s members were younger then some of the other Rotarians that I have met in London, and they are some of the most diverse. Many of the members have come from across Europe to work and study in London. What was also interesting is many of them had been part of Rotary in their home countries as well, and once they found a home in London made sure to continue their relationship with Rotary International. Overall it was a great opportunity, and I really appreciated the Rotary Club of Kensington to put on such an event for us.


Michael and “The Legendary” Clive Amos, President of the Rotary Club of London

The day after the Kensington event, I attended a Rotary meeting for my host club — the Rotary Club of London. The President of the Rotary Club of London, the legendary Mr. Clive Amos, is one of the most charismatic and energetic Rotarians I have met, and he is passionate about Rotary. In the minutes I spent with him I learned a lot of fun facts about Rotary International, including: it’s influence, reach, scope, and the many ways that the Rotary Club of London has made it’s mark on Rotary worldwide. When I told Mr. Amos I was writing a blog, he told me to include that I was attending a very special London Rotary Club meeting. London Rotary is one of the largest clubs in the world with over 135 members, including: lords, ambassadors, politicians, ministers, and HRH Prince Phillip himself (as an honorary Rotarian). With such a large member base, some of the younger members created the Rotary Club of London Satellite Club, and that was the meeting I was attending for the first time. From what I learned, a satellite club has never been done before and it convenes at a different day, time, and place then the main club. The members are younger business professionals who can’t join the main club’s scheduled time for various reasons but are still passionate about Rotary. With that the Satellite Club was born. The night I attended, there was also a Rotarian from Corpus Cristi, TX and I was able to see both clubs exchange banners.

One of the most exciting things that I could report is the RIBI District Conference. The conference was held over the course of three days on the beautiful English coast in the City of Eastbourne. All the London Rotary Scholars were present and were asked to present as part of the second day of the ceremony. Upon my arrival in Eastbourne, I got a big Rotary welcome from many clubs — but one claims that they adopted me for the course of the trip. The minute I stepped into my hotel, before I even checked in, I met a rotarian from the Rotary Club of Edmonton who found out I was a Rotary Scholar and immediately asked that I have dinner with them every night of the conference. The Rotary Club of Edmonton was very large and welcoming club, and not only invited me but several other scholars over the course of the trip. Each of us enjoyed the Rotary Club of Edmonton’s company and thank them for the hospitality they showed us in Eastbourne.


Michael with past RI President Mr. Rick King, Mrs. King, Baroness Gloria Hooper, and I at the RIBI Conference in Eastbourne

The Legendary Clive Amos was in Eastbourne as well, but he was asked by the District to take care of the main speaker for the event — Baroness Gloria Hooper of Liverpool and St. James. The Baroness was the first female Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar and was sponsored by the Rotary Club of London to study in Ecuador. In her speech she spoke about how Rotary had changed her life, and propelled her not only into a seat in the House of Lords, but also becoming an architect of UK diplomacy towards Ecuador and South America. The Baroness also ran for the European Parliament in 1979 as a Conservative, and won — helping then Leader of the Opposition Margaret Thatcher become Prime Minister. For all of the scholars it was extremely inspiring to meet the Baroness. After her speech, the District Governor passionately encouraged all of the scholars to have a similar impact on the world.

After the Baroness, past Rotary International President Rick King took the stage as a liaison for the current RI President. Mr. King was extraordinary! A phenomenal orator. He spoke of the influence Rotary has had throughout time and shared public and personal stories including the story of one of his good friends. Mr. King’s most moving story was how Rotary had changed the life of one specific Rotarian. This Rotarian and his club had donated about $100,000 so expensive medical equipment could be donated to their local hospital. Several years later, this Rotarian has his first grandchild, a granddaughter who was born in ill health, and many of the doctor’s were saying her chance of survival were 50/50. During one of the visits that this Rotarian made to the hospital, he saw his granddaughter on a respirator — and I believe the doctors were saying that things weren’t looking good. While him and his wife were praying, the Rotarian got a look at the medical equipment that was keeping his granddaughter a live, and saw that it was part of the equipment that his club had donated years before. When Mr. King heard this story as then RI President, this Rotarian was picking him up from the airport and driving him to an event — after just bringing his family and new, healthy, granddaughter home that morning. Needless to say Mr. King got a well deserved standing ovation. I was also able to get a picture with both Mr. King and the Baroness after their speeches.

Aside from an extraordinary weekend during the RIBI conference, I have made an effort to be active with the Rotaract Club of Westminster. At this time I have attended only one of their meetings, which are held every two weeks, but I did also attend their Rotaract World Polio Day mixer — which raised money for RI’s goal of eradicating polio. When I told Mr. Amos that I was planning on getting involved with Rotaract of Westminster, he gave a raving recommendation — and I can see why. All the members, and aspiring members, of the Rotaract Club of Westminster are very impressive. The membership is diverse with people from all over Europe and Asia working in London’s finance, insurance, marketing, banking, and other sector’s. Ambition seems to be a characteristic that each of the members share, a long with public service. I look forward to working with them in the future.

As you can see Rotary really lit up my month! And I look forward to the adventures to come.


Michael Matthiesen, B.A 

Eastbourne Beach

Categories: Happenings in D6990

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