Program Report – Sam Wazan – Business Consultant and Peace Advocate

Wazan2Sam Wazan is an author, senior management consultant, speaker, and survivor.  He spent his young adulthood living in – actually, trapped in – Beirut during Lebanon’s long and violent sectarian war.

In his second appearance before our club at Monday lunch, Wazan recalled a stark portrait of life in a society ruined by radicalization and sectarian violence and cautioned that troubling signals of radicalization are on the rise here at home.

In Wazan’s young adulthood, fanatics carried out religious massacres. Sniper and rocket attacks routinely happened.  Water and power service were scarce. As a young man, he woke not to the chirping of birds but to a “poetic voice” on the radio saying “martyrdom is the only calling.”  His was a life of city buildings with billowing plastic sheets as windows, of roads made barely usable by craters and potholes. Sometimes you dashed from the protection of sandbags for food. 

The author of a novel inspired by reality, “Trapped in Four Square Miles,” Wazan now includes a cautionary note in his public speeches: America demonstrates troubling signs of division and polarization that are signs of radicalization. “I am afraid in this country that we are going backwards,” he said.

(Wazan, a Muslim, first spoke last year on April 15 – mere hours before the Boston Marathon bombing and recalls extreme religious sentiments being expressed in the aftermath.)

Among signs of radicalization are venomous rhetoric, “incubation” of citizens allowing themselves to be “locked into one-sided views” promoted by biased talking heads and zealous commentators, and even short-burst social media reducing discourse to soundbites and “zingers.”  Social dating websites based on religion he views with suspicion. 

“We are turning into a sectarian nation, I fear,” he said.

Noting that “radicals are raised, not born,” as in Beirut, Wazan said that the best battlefield to stop the growth of radicalization here at home was “the kitchen table, the family room.” In those spaces, he said, “we have the most formidable frontier to neutralize the forces of hate.”

“It’s there where you safeguard your children,” he said.

While some cast bravery and courage as battlefield traits, Wazan said that we can and should view bravery and courage as intellectual and spiritual virtues to be promoted in the cause of peace, against sectarian and religious hatred.

Wazan was introduced by Past President Don Stanger who said his friendship with Wazan has deepened since Wazan’s first appearance last April because the author is “an incredible cheerleader for peace.”

Our thanks to Sam Wazan for the return visit and best wishes.

Submitted by Mark Lazenby

Program Report: Christmas Luncheon

The Morehead Montessori Elementary School Suzuki Violin Students

Carrington Middle School’s Eight Grade Chorus

Our Rotary Holiday Luncheon did not disappoint this year. Two schools treated us to their musical talents. Mary Casey, the Director of Arts for the Durham Public Schools introduced the Morehead Montessori Elementary School Suzuki Violin students first, and their teacher Betsey Hughes.

The 3rd through fifth graders treated us to six selections! They had extremely serious faces and finished with a lovely “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”.  More importantly we learned that this is a free program that has been in Durham for six years. The only requirement is that a parent attends with their student in the mornings when they take their group classes. And lest you think our young talents are not serious, they recently played with the North Carolina Symphony!

voilins

Next was Carrington Middle School’s Eighth Grade Chorus. As some of you know my high school chorus was a pretty serious thing that took me across the world, so I was a bit teary listening to this devoted group of enthusiastic singers!

Their teacher, Alicia Jones, who was an enthusiastic leader for these teens, conducted them. She praised them, told them to breathe and enjoy themselves and relax! And they did. They sang in four-part harmony five selections, ending with one (edited version) of a Justin Bieber’s “Mistletoe”.  And sporting Santa hats and reindeer antlers, they truly brightened up the convention center ballroom. Ms. Jones told us that Carrington Middle School is one of the largest middle schools on the east coast, with over 1200 students in North Durham. Well, Alicia Jones, the eighth graders in your chorus will not, as my favorite selection sang out “Forget You”.  She is exactly the kind of teacher you hope one’s eighth grader will be lucky enough to hear from.

CarringtonChorus

And we were lucky enough to hear from as well.

Happy Holidays!

Program Report: Andrew Bauer – Insects of the Dominican Republic

AndrewBauerWebThe Convention Center dining room was festively decorated for our Monday meeting with red tablecloths, poinsettias, and candy canes.  I had the unusual good fortune to be seated at a table where I was the only male.  My tablemates did not to hesitate to indicate their squeamishness about the topic of our program …bugs.  However, by the end of the meeting I think everyone was equally in awe of the beauty captured in Andrew Bauer’s photographs of the insects he photographed in the Dominican Republic.

Carver Weaver introduced Andrew, a Durham Tech student and aspiring entomologist. She also brought with her Dr. Constanza (Connie) Gomeź-Joines, the executive director for Durham Tech’s Center for the Global Learner. Dr. Gomeź-Joines spoke to the Club in June about the Center when we visited the campus at the invitation of President Bill. One of the relationships the Center is involved in is with the Universidad Católica Nordestana (UCNE), which is creating the first community college, as we know them,  in the Dominican Republic.

In the Spring of 2012 the Center for the Global Learner expanded its relationship with the Dominican Republic with a course that discusses the literature, politics and culture of the Dominican Republic. The goal of the course is to prepare students to become part of a globally competitive workforce by exploring the political, economic and social interconnections between communities in the US and Latin America. The course includes a weeklong trip to the Dominican Republic. Andrew was one of those students and found the variety of insect life fascinating.Boss Jumping Spider Web

Upon returning to Durham Tech he approached Dr. Gomeź-Joines about the possibility of returning in the summer to continue his insect research. The request was granted by UCNE and Andrew spent the summer of 2013 photographing and cataloging the native insects. One day he hopes to return and continue his studies but in the meantime is excited to share his photographs and knowledge about the insect life of the Dominican Republic.

With good humor and obvious relish, Andrew described his stay including helping some of his acquaintances in the host country overcome their reluctance to handle some of the native insects including giant tarantulas and centipedes.

It also evolved during the presentation and the questions afterwards that Andrew’s passion might be as much about photography as science. Nevertheless, this life-long passion, he confessed, had created some interesting family stories, but no discouragement from his mother.

As charming as he was, the heart of the presentation was the slide show of some of Andrew’s photographs set to music. It looked like the little guys (and the bigger ones too) dressed for the Christmas season.

You never know what you’re going to get sometimes with our programs. With this one we got a demonstration of one of the international initiatives of Durham Tech, an introduction to a young man with a passion, some beautiful nature photography that oddly complemented the holiday decoration and a demonstration of Vice President Todd Taylor’s extermination skills with his heel. (You had to be there.)

Below is Andrew’s video on YouTube.

 

Program Report: Ivan Martinez – Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar in New Zealand

MartinezIvan Martinez, a recent Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar who arrived in New Zealand in mid-Winter 2012, began his presentation by talking about his connection with Rotary which started as a teenager and has been a transformative part of his life.

Ivan’s first Rotary experience began when he was invited to attend a RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards) camp.  The invitation came quite unexpectedly.  He describes himself as a pretty typical teenager.  At home he was what might be called a little sullen, spending much of his time withdrawn in his room with the door shut.  A neighbor across the street, a Rotarian, came over one day and asked if he would like to attend a RYLA workshop.  Ivan was not terribly enthusiastic until the Rotarian said “You get two days out of school.”  That clinched it.  The experience was so meaningful that Ivan worked as a RYLA counselor for the next few years.  Importantly, Ivan says it was the first time an adult saw potential in him and encouraged him to cultivate his talents and interests.  This Rotarian became Ivan’s mentor and friend.  He admonished us “not to forget influence you as Rotarians can have on young people.”

The next pivotal Rotary moment came when he was asked as a high school senior to assume leadership in reforming the languishing Interact Club at his school.  More recently, our club and District 7710 sponsored him as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar to New Zealand.  His host, District 9980 located on New Zealand’s South Island, has the distinction of being the southernmost Rotary district in the world.  It is so far south, it is only 4,000 miles from Antarctic.  Consequently, it is always cold, especially for a boy who had grown up in Miami.  His house, like others in Dunedin, was old, had neither insulation nor central heating.  Ivan’s visiting father-in-law summed it up well:  “This is like America, forty years ago.” To combat the cold, locals laconically advised adding another merino wool sweater.  Fittingly for a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, a tree in front of the Martinez home was supposedly planted by Paul Harris.

The population of South Island which has only two Maori tribes is small in comparison the North Island.  Dunedin, located adjacent to the Otago Peninsula and once visited by Captain James Cook in 1770, was in years past the number two city in New Zealand.  Most early European settlers were Scottish Presbyterian farmers who, as Ivan put it, “got on boats and sailed to the bottom of the world.”  Ivan pointed out that New Zealand is the only place in the world where Europeans had permission to settle, confirmed by a treaty signed by a Maori king and the British monarch.  New Zealand remains a member of the Commonwealth.  It is a constitutional monarchy without a written constitution.  Elizabeth II is the Queen of New Zealand.

Kiwis, says Ivan, have a keen appreciation of the environment.  Whenever the sun breaks through the clouds everybody goes outside.  One of his family’s favorite places to visit is Wanaka, a resort town, situated on a beautiful lake carved by glaciers millennia ago and close to ski runs.

Rotary in New Zealand dates back to 1921when a Canadian, Colonel James “Big Jim” Davidson—who was responsible for starting more Rotary clubs than any other individual—enjoyed great success in the South Pacific.  In mid-century, New Zealand Rotarians established the prototype for the Group Study Exchange program when they sent six young professionals and businessmen led by a Rotarian abroad for a two-month study tour.

We perhaps sometimes forget how difference Rotary can make in the lives of individuals as well as doing good for communities in need.

 

Submitted by Allen Cronenberg

Paul Harris Fellows: Marty Morris and Toby Barfield

rotary12213 005PHF2Foundation Committee Chairman Dallas Stallings presents Paul Harris Fellow awards to former President Toby Barfield (PHF +4) and new member Marty Morris.

Dallas also encouraged the numerous Duke football fans in the audience to get together and award a Paul Harris Fellow to Duke Football Coach David Cutcliffe, who has led the Blue Devils to the first 10 wins season in its history and has been named ACC Coach of the Year for the second year in a row as well as the Walter Camp National Coach of the Year Award for this outstanding season.

Dallas also reminded the club that  Paul Harris Fellowships are a beautiful way to honor a spouse or other important person in their lives that has everything…and it’s tax deductible.

New Member: Roxanne Hall Little

12-5newmemberCongratulations to our new member, Roxanne Hall Little. Roxanne is the Major Gifts Officer for the Durham Habitat for Humanity and was sponsored and introduced by Blake Strayhorn, CEO of the same organization.