Club Meeting – June 5th, 2014
The Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarships to promote international understanding and friendly relations among peoples of the world ended in 2013. Our speaker today Alexandra Bowles was a 2013 Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar to Cape Town, South Africa. As of 2013-14, The Foundation offers scholarship opportunities through district and global grants. This new grant structure gives Rotarians greater flexibility in sponsoring the next generation of leaders. Since 1947, a total of $532 million has been awarded to 41,000 men and women.
A benefit to Club members is the opportunity to hear from young scholars upon their return from studies abroad. Alexandra Bowles studied “Development Studies” at University of Cape Town, with a focus on social enterprise within a nonprofit context. She graduated with a Distinction.
Ms. Bowles offered the Club an informative overview of the demographics and cultural traits she encountered in her time abroad . While in South Africa, she independently traveled to Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Lesotho.
Ms. Bowles was surprised at the level of anti-America sentiment she experienced in her travels. Though not so much as to prevent her from making many friends and lasting relationships. In her presentations to Rotary Clubs the theme was “Appalachia” with a complementary dose of Blue Grass music (often a big hit). It is apparent that between Ms. Bowles’ personality and her revealing a real slice of Americana helped alter some misconceptions about our country. Ms. Bowles offers a shining example of why scholarship programs such as this are beneficial to creating better international understanding between peoples.
While in Cape town, Ms. Bowles conducted multiple community service projects, including a community assessment in the Gugulethu township to quantify the importance of a sustainable supply of feminine hygiene products for school girls. Academic success and school retention among girls in Africa is often related to their ability to access feminine hygiene products. Thus, helping them to stay in school full-time.
Ms. Bowles is currently applying the knowledge gained in South Africa as a resources development consultant helping local nonprofits and other agencies raise funding. She is planning a return trip to South Africa within the next year.
“I learned a great deal and had a truly life-changing experience in South Africa, all thanks to the Rotary Club!”
And thank you Alexandra for representing our country and Rotary so well!