By Natalia Kunzer, Open World Program Officer at Rotary International
Imagine hosting a group of bright young leaders from a Eurasian country for eight unforgettable days and nights in the comfort of your community.
Thanks to the Open World Program, U.S. clubs can participate in an international exchange by hosting a group of six Open World participants. This unique program is sponsored by the United States Congress and supported by Rotary International.
Throughout the years, numerous Rotary clubs and districts in the United States have been enthusiastic participants by hosting rising young professionals. As a host, you will have the opportunity to learn about your visitors’ culture, share your own experiences, and build lasting friendships. You will also help visitors gain a better understanding of the United States, local traditions and customs, and its people.
Host clubs reported that the Open World program experience had a significant impact on their clubs and communities. They cited the following benefits:
- Increased international understanding. The program helped break down cultural barriers and promote understanding between people from different countries.
- Strengthened relationships. The program forged new connections between host clubs and their counterparts in Eurasia.
- New friendships. The program created lasting friendships between host club members and the Open World participants.
Host clubs also reported that the Open World program was a valuable learning experience for their members. They learned about different cultures, perspectives, and ways of approaching business or addressing issues. They also gained new skills and knowledge that they could use in their own communities.
“For us as Rotarians, we wanted to inspire hope. [Delegates] inspired us with their intelligence, resilience, and bravery. By far, in all my years serving as a Rotarian, participating in the Open World Program has united Rotarians and given us greater purpose.” Rotary Host Coordinator 2023
Delegates return home after an immersive experience with new inspiration and professional growth. A 2022 Open World Delegate shares “This program was one of the best. The program provides value to participants. Cultural exchange, acquaintance [is on] one side, but the professional exchange [emphasis] can change one’s career.”
What is the Open World Program?
The program brings emerging leaders from participating countries to the United States for a short visit to give them firsthand exposure to the American system of participatory democracy and accountable governance. Counterparts engage on timely issues such as e-governance, leadership development, entrepreneurship, health and social services delivery, education, environment, and the rule of law. The principles of accountability, transparency, and citizen involvement in government are among the concepts emphasized by the Open World program.
Rotary hosts welcome Open World delegations in their homes and prepare a professional program for eight days. Through this vocational and cultural exchange, delegates experience American family and community life, and the Rotary hosts broaden their international understanding. Host clubs are reimbursed for many of their hosting expenses through Open World grants.
Is your Rotaract or Rotary club, or district, interested in hosting a delegation in 2024? Please contact Natalia Kunzer, Rotary International’s Open World Officer.