The United Nations honors six Rotary People of Action: Champions of Peace at Rotary Day at the United Nations, Geneva, Switzerland, 10 November 2017. These Rotary members and Rotary Peace Center alumni are all involved in projects that address underlying causes of conflict, including poverty, inequality, ethnic tension, lack of access to education, or unequal distribution of resources.

By Taylor Cass Talbott

Thanks to generous support from Rotarians all over Oregon, my husband, Brodie, and I were able to attend Rotary Day at the Geneva United Nations in November. We were invited so that I could receive one Rotary International’s People of Action: Champion of Peace awards.

Each year, Rotary presents six People of Action awards during Rotary Day at the United Nations and focuses on a different theme each year. This year was the first time Rotary held the event in Geneva rather than New York, and the first time that Rotary included peace fellows (two of us!) as awardees.

After sleeping off our jet lag, our first day in Geneva was spent at the United Nations, where we were given a historical tour and an intensive public speaking training. Fellow Peace Fellow Kiran Singh Sirah and I finished the day at a dinner with top donors to Rotary’s peace initiative, and I enjoyed the opportunity to chat with RI President Ian Riseley and his wife, Juliet.

The following day kicked off the Rotary Day event. We were broken up into three different groups to give presentations in three separate UN meeting halls, so I was not able to hear presentations by most of the other awardees and only my workshop was live-streamed. UN representatives who spoke on our panels placed considerable emphasis on the importance of inclusion, which was very validating because our SWaCH project is a perfect example of socially and economically inclusive development.

My presentation is still online, and you can find it about 1hr and 20 minutes into this video:

http://webtv.un.org/search/workshop-1-rotaryunday-rotary-day-at-the-united-nations-2017/5642686115001/?term=rotary&sort=date

That night, Rotary held a celebratory dinner, and we had the chance to socialize more with the other awardees and their spouses. I have since been in conversation with the other Champions of Peace to discuss how we all might collaborate on projects in the future.

Many thanks for your support in getting us to Geneva. It has planted many new seeds for peace-building, and it meant a lot to be honored for our SWaCH waste picker project [in Pune, India].

I encourage you to read more about the other awardees, who were all very impressive:

https://www.rotary.org/en/rotary-2017-peace-champions

(Pictures: Taylor outside the UN headquarters in Geneva; with all six who won the Champion of Peace award.)

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