D6990 Rotary Foundation Global Grant Scholar, Michael Matthiesen, March 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.

The month of March kicked off with me giving a speech to the very welcoming Rotary Club of Radlett. A small town toward the outer edges of London, it was the first club I had to use the Overground as my main method of transport. As the name implies, the Overground is the train system in London that travels above ground, while the Underground is London’s subway system which they call “the tube.” The underground is about as effective as New York City’s subway system at getting you where you need to go fast! The Overground is usually for long distances so you know you are going to be on the train for a while. But the great thing about the Overground is that while you are travelling you actually get to look out the window and see some of the beautiful scenery on the outskirts of London that you don’t get to see in the tube or in the heart of London. However, if you did want to get a good view of inner London during the day, the bus is the way to go!

The Rotary Club of Radlett (RC Radlett) is a very friendly club where all the members clearly have a good history with each other. Visiting them felt like you were visiting family, even though it was your first time there. I first met the RC Radlett club when they invited me to their Annual Scholars Dinner in Eastbourne. RC Radlett’s Annual Dinner is for all the Rotary Global Grant Scholars and is held in February. RC Radlett invites all the scholars to come to their club and talk about themselves for several minutes, and then meet the Radlett members. All the scholars were invited during the RIBI conference in Eastbourne, and when I got the invitation I immediately responded saying I was going. However, last minute I found out I was not able to go despite my best efforts, and had to cancel with RC Radlett. To make it up to them, I asked if I could come by on a different day and speak to their club and they happily accepted. We arranged a date for the 1st of March.

Speaking to RC Radlett after a delicious lunch

Speaking to RC Radlett after a delicious lunch.

Radlett was an interesting town that was probably as stereotypically English Countryside as any a Miami boy could imagine. But with parts that were more realistic then the movies make them seem to be. As I stated before, RC Radlett was a pleasure to go speak to. The whole club was very receptive, and very informed! After I was done speaking, a lot of members asked very thought provoking and in-depth questions. If I hadn’t paid the least bit attention in class I couldn’t answer some of the things they asked! I could continue to rave about how great RC Radlett was to visit, but two things stuck out as my favourite part about joining them for lunch. The first was seeing the banter between the group. The level of cutting friendly banter between the group was something that had me laughing throughout my meal. No one held back! Each member was taking shots at the other, and everyone was laughing about it. They were all so funny. But even with the things being said, everyone could see it was all in good humour. RC Radlett solidified for me that the British are better at sarcasm than Americans. The other thing I liked most about lunch at Radlett was the large Rotary wheel with full-sized American Flag and Union Jack on either side of the wheel. I have been to only a hand full of clubs in London that put up both flags when I spoke, but they were usually table sized. This, however, was front and centre when I walked into the room. It was something I really enjoyed and I thank RC Radlett for going out of their way to make that happen.

Me on the Rotary Wheel with the American Flag and Union Jack on either side.

Me on the Rotary Wheel with the American Flag and Union Jack on either side.

On other fronts, March was the last month of my classes in Term 2. Time flies! Feels like just a couple weeks ago I was writing my first blog about how I just arrived in London and was exploring to my hearts content. Now I have essays, exams, and dissertations. As you can imagine, I am hitting the books. Back at Goodenough College, I have joined the TEDxGoodenough College 2015 Organising Committee as one of the Speaker Managers. Goodenough College has been putting on a TEDx event for the past four years, and 2015’s theme is “The Missing Link.” After over 60 applications and some long days of interviews, we have some speakers that we are really excited to see speak during the event which is suppose to be held May 15th, 2015. Though I have missed a couple previous Rotaract meetings because of Rotary dinners and other events, I was able to attend the Rotaract of Westminster meetings this week — which I was happy to get back into.

Had a surprise as an old friend, Jasmine Rosa, from the University of Miami came to visit. Jasmine is now doing Peace Corp in Macedonia.

Finally, in March I had a surprise from an old friend, Jasmine Rosa, from the University of Miami who came to visit. Jasmine is now doing Peace Corp in Macedonia!

-Michael 

Michael Matthiesen, B.A 


Categories: Happenings in D6990

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