Rotary Connections Across the Pond

Fintan Phelan, WIP Class 2012, talks about connecting with the Rotary Cub of Alexandria

It was a privilege to attend a meeting of the Rotary Club of Alexandria this afternoon. I came bearing a banner from the Rotary Club of Carlow given to me by my Grandfather Fintan Phelan to present to a local rotary club. It was a great honor to be able to exchange this banner with the Rotary club of Alexandria on behalf of Carlow. Andrew Carroll, an Attorney in Alexandria, took me along to the club as his guest. The generosity and warmth of all the Rotarian’s, who numbered over one hundred, was very welcoming and I felt completely at ease.

After an interesting run down of the news both national and local all the guests were welcomed. I was then invited to the podium to give an address to the club. I spoke on two main topics the Rotary club of Carlow and the Washington Ireland Program. In my address to the club I outlined two  factors that motivate me here in Washington. Firstly the relationship between Ireland and the United States and secondly the relationship between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. I am very eager to discover more about the Irish-American relationship. It is a relationship which spans generations and one that must be cherished and nurtured. I also want to better understand my colleagues from Northern Ireland. As it is only through understanding one and other that we can truly live in peace and write a better future. These messages went down very well, I only hope the audience could comprehend the Irish accent! To have the opportunity to represent and promote both Carlow and the Washington Ireland Program to such a large and experienced audience was a great honor.

After my address the meeting focused on international development. There was a case study presented on Rotary’s work with a school in Sierra Leone. This was very insightful and interesting to compare to my experience in Maweni Primary school in Mombasa, Kenya last summer. Another very interesting project undertaken by the Rotary club was encouraging free enterprise with a Rotary club in Lithuania.

This was truly a great afternoon and I am very grateful to the Rotary Club of Alexandria for allowing me to address them.  I particularly want to thank Andrew Carroll and David O’Brien for helping organize this. Hopefully today is the beginning of a new link between the Washington Ireland Program, the Rotary Club of Carlow and the Rotary Club of Alexandria.