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

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.

November has been a pretty packed month with traditional ceremonies and Rotary events. I started the month with meetings and events at the Rotaract Club of Westminister and my first presentation with the Rotary Club of Bush Hill.

IMG_1463Michael presenting to the Rotary Club of Bush Hill

I made sure to go all out on the PowerPoint presentation and speak about not only my experiences in Miami and London — but also about what is unique about Rotary District 6990. The Rotary Club of Bush Hill is located in Zone 5 of London, which reminded me of the calm quaint suburbs of Miami outside of the rustle and energy of the city. I was able to get to Bush Hill from the tube station near my accommodations, and on my arrival​ ​at the station I was picked up by the one and only “ever present” Stella Russell — the scholarship coordinator for the London District.

Stella drove me to the pub where her Rotary Club hosts their weekly meetings— note that I am still not use to sitting on the left side of the car without a steering wheel in front of me — and on the way she told me some interesting facts about her club. The Rotary Club of Bush Hill has not only a weekly meeting in person, but an e-club that allows them to interact with members from across Europe. The Rotary Club of Bush Hill also has some members who live in India for part of the year, so the e-club allows there members to remain a part of the Rotary Club of Bush Hill while they are half way across the globe. My presentation with the Rotary Club of Bush Hill I feel went well — and it got those first time presentation jitters out of the way. The club seemed very responsive to what I was studying, and had several questions about my experiences back home in Miami as well as a range of other topics. I made sure to drive home that though Miami is not as big a city as London, it gives London a run for it’s title as “Most International City.” I explained how South Florida is no longer a community solely dominated by South Americans, but has members from across the globe finding a home a long the shore of South Beach.

P1020700The Rotary Foundation Appreciation Evening with Stella Russell and Francis

About a week later I had my second presentation — I was picked to represent all the London​ scholars at The Rotary Foundation of London Appreciation Evening. Members from Rotary Clubs all across London were present — and each made sure to have a big showing. The night was a gesture of appreciation from the Rotary Foundation to the London Rotarians for the had word, dedication, and change they had committed to through out the past year. One part of the presentation was seeing the fruits of their labours — which included the Rotary Scholars.​ With over 20 scholars currently studying in London Universities, the London Rotary District hosts more scholars then any other Rotary in the world.​ Unlike standard Rotary Scholars presentations, though I had to use my experiences as a sample of what this year’s Rotary Scholar are like, this presentation was less about me and more about the London Scholars as a group. I kept it brief, because there were many presentations to get through — including one from​ r​otarians who went to India! Overall the evening was very posh and very impressive. Many of the people present were surprised at what their fellow ​rotarians had been able to accomplish over the course of the year. While they were all getting their due regards, compliments, and congratulations from their peer rotarians — I made sure to grab two slices of deep forest chocolate cake. ​I also doubled the amount of past Rotary International Presidents I’ve met as the whole evening was in the presence of former Rotary President John Kenny, who is now 2014-15 Chairman of the Rotary Foundation Trustees.​

IMG_2342Michael with former Rotary International President John Kenny

I was able to meet and dine with my host family twice this month — and the Balcombe’s are exceptional people and rotarians. They invited me over to have dinner with some of their family members, including a nephew who worked for the Deputy Speaker of Parliament. Ian Balcombe is always the life of the event with his jokes and stories. Gillian Balcombe as always is an elegant host who ​makes sure all her guests are well cared for. I do enjoy spending time with them.

Now that we have gotten some roots in London, all the Rotary Scholars began doing more events together this past month. Another scholar from Florida and I even went to Geneva, Switzerland for the Weekend! ​First and foremost, the scholars get together for trivia night every Tuesday at the famous Ruebuck Pub — where Charlie Chaplin made a performance before​ his big break​. We also went to the USA vs. Colombia Football (Soccer) Game that was held in London. You don’t realise how many Colombians are in London until you go to a Colombian game. The stadium was sold out, and out of 20,000 tickets sold 15,000 were sold to Colombia fans. Our “U-S-A” chants were sometimes drowned out. Aside from football (soccer) games and trivia — we also had a Thanksgiving together on Thursday November 27th, 2014. We gathered at one of the scholar’s house and each brought something. It was nice to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving with other Americans while staying in London — and we were from a range of states as well. Scholars from Florida, Texas, Kentucky, California, Hawaii, Connecticut, Colorado, and more were all present. I also ended up having a second Thanksgiving at Goodenough College. Over 150 members attended and were from countries all over the world. Only 53 members at Goodenough College are American, so even if all were in attendance — there would have still been more non-Americans there celebrating with us!

IMG_2744Another Rotary scholar from Florida, Jesse O’Shea, and Michael in front of the United Nations in Geneva

-Michael 

Michael Matthiesen, B.A 


Categories: Happenings in D6990

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