A European Fall with Rotaract

What do The Netherlands, Ukraine and Denmark have in common ? Well, those are the three countries I’ve been traveling to those last weeks for Rotaract. Lots of hours on the plane and kilometers on the train for three original experiences !

• From August 31st to September 2nd : ShelterBox Challenge, Amsterdam 

17 teams of 4 people, each of them carrying an empty ShelterBox (see what’s inside a full one) from one checkpoint to the other, accross the streets of Amsterdam : that’s what the « ShelterBox Challenge 2012 » (@SBchallenge2012), organized by the Dutch clubs, was about. The aim ? Raise awareness for « ShelterBox ».

According to the description on the official website, “ShelterBox is an international disaster relief charity that delivers emergency shelter, warmth and dignity to people made homeless by disasters worldwide”. Watch the video below to learn more about it, and check out ShelterBox on Social MediaFacebook – Twitter – YouTube – Flickr

The other goal : get more points than the other teams during the challenges we had to take part in at each checkpoint ! And the first step was quite a big one : put up the ShelterBox tent as fast as possible. And we had to do it well, because spending the night in the tent was a mandatory step of the Challenge. In total, 12 checkpoints with as many challenges to achieve, and this was the program of the first day only ! Scheduled on Sunday : fun games for which agility, speed and strength were the needed skills.

And what were our efforts worth ? Well, Rotaract Clubs of Limmattal (in a team with RAC Aalsmeer-Mijdrecht-Uithoorn from The Netherlands) and Neuchâtel (in a team with RAC Brussel Coudenberg from Belgium) ended up at the 4th and 9th ranks. And the winning team was made of two representatives of ShelterBox Switzerland, Jérôme Danner and Renato Forster, and two Italian Rotaractors. “ShelterBox Challenge Amsterdam”, see you in 2013 ! And you, curious reader, check out the video of the 2011 edition below !

What did the participants think of the different challenges ? “In terms of raising your personal awareness about the content of a box, packing the ShelterBox was perfect” said Jérôme. For Vivianne, shooting a promotion movie about ShelterBox was fun and useful : “we had to think of what is essential about ShelterBox, because the movie could last no more than 15 seconds. Plus, it was easy to share the film afterwards on social media and create awareness about ShelterBox”. And Laura’s favorite challenge was making fire, “because it tested our teamwork already in an early stage in the challenge. I saw how hard it is to work together in a stressfull situation. Together with the other challenges, it made me realise that being in a SRT [ShelterBox Response Team = volunteers working on the field] is a increadably hard job !”

> More photos of this event on Picasa

• From September 20th to 23rd : Rotaract Europe Meeting, Kyiv 

The Autumn Rotaract Europe Meeting (REM) took place in Kyiv, Ukraine, this year. Hundreds of Rotaractors traveled from all over Europe to go discover one of the host cities of the UEFA Euro 2012. Soccer was actually the theme of the weekend : a party where everyone was wearing the sweater of their favorite team, an auction sale of a ball signed by Andriy Schevchenko during the gala night, and above all, a soccer tournament we took part in on Friday afternoon. The aim was to raise some funds to transform the wheelchairs of disabled children, in order to allow them to play soccer as well. The benefits of the auction sale were also given to this cause.

Social projects like this soccer tournament are becoming more and more popular during European meetings. In Belgrade in 2011, we planted Christmas trees, a “car wash party” was organized during the Convention in Dortmund the same year, … And what for the future ? Rotaractors don’t lack ideas ! Especially Johanna : “everybody could get some flowers (maybe sponsored by some local flower shops), put a card on it to raise awareness for Polio, AIDS or Organ donation for example. We did this in Germany last year quite often, but with letting ballons fly with cards hanging on them. A flashmob could also be possible.” For Michael, “any sport works as a fundraiser. Basketball, Rounders/Softball/Baseball, Volleyball, Frisbee, … The project doesn’t have to be just local. For instance WheelPower in the UK are a huge charity which deals with disabled people in sport and is closely related to the founding of the Paralympic movement.”

Soccer Tournament at REM Kyiv – Photo Sven de Ronden ©

Saturday was dedicated to the meeting of Rotaract Europe (E.R.I.C., European Rotaract Information Centre) and Country Representatives. Each of us presented the projects going on in our countries. What I like the most about this moment is that we all inspire each other, and at the end of the weekend, we all go back home with new ideas of social actions. Then, Filip Mrkvicka, Country Representative for Czech Republic and Slovakia, presented the “Rotaract Alzheimer’s Awareness Project“, a European-level project with a wide range of action : from creating awareness to fundraising, any action related to the Alzheimer’s disease, which is still too much unknown, according to Filip. Check out the Rotaract Europe Facebook page to be updated about their activities !

E.R.I.C. Meeting & Workshops during REM Kyiv
Photos Cloé Bernier & Rimma Gaifullina ©

> More photos of this event on Picasa

• From October 12th to 14th : Nordact, Odense 

Conferences at Nordact, Odense (Denmark)
Photo Cloé Bernier ©

Scandinavian experience in Odense (Denmark) for Nordact (@nordact2012), the annual meeting of all Rotaract Clubs from DenmarkSweden and Norway. This year, the theme of the conference was “small differences between Nordic countries. The speakers talked about topics like “clichés about Nordic countries” and “cultural differences in business”, followed by a debate : “cooperation in the Nordic region and cultural differences that make it difficult”. Interesting speakers for an interactive program !

After brain gymnastics, bring on the “Nordic Challenge” : a tournament of fun activities opposing Danish, Swedish and Norwegian teams (including some Belgians, Swiss and German people in each of them). Result : lots of mud on the clothes and at least as much fun !

Swedes, Danes & Co. ready for the Nordic Challenge – Photos Cloé Bernier ©

On Saturday night, we entered the world of Valhalla. Everybody dressed up especially for the occasion, Viking style. The weekend ended on Sunday morning with a sightseeing session of the city of Odense for the half of us, and the visit of a local business for the others. After a quick lunch, it’s already time to say goodbye…

Belgian Rotaractors dressed “Valhalla Style” – Photo Cloé Bernier ©

Every year, Nordact welcomes Nordic as well as foreign Rotaractors. What do each of them think of the other ? Carla, Swiss Rotaractor, says : “Nordact is attractive because of the popularity of Nordic countries, of their prosperity, the nice and cool people, etc. Also, even though it is pretty small, everybody, even without ever having attended a Nordact, knows of Nordact. They do have an excellent reputation. Having attended my first Nordact this year I can only confirm that.” On the other side, Johan, president of Rotaract in Sweden, is “very happy to see so many foreign Rotaractors at Nordact. It gives a wider perspective in discussions and also a chance to make new friends, not only within the Nordic countries.” See you next year in Oslo, then !

> More photos of this event on Picasa

Yours in Rotaract,

Cloé Bernier, E.R.I.C. Country Representative for Switzerland

• QUESTIONS • 

Question 1 (30.10.2012) • For the people among you who participated in the ShelterBox Challenge, what was your favorite challenge and why ? And how do you think it raised awareness for the cause ?

Question 2 (12.11.2012) • During REM in Kyiv, a football tournament was organized to raise awareness and funds to finance special wheelchairs for children with disabilities, so they can play football. What do you think of the idea of a social project during a REM, in general ? What project would you suggest to the organizers of the next REMs ?

Question 3 (25.11.2012) • Even though Nordact is the Rotaract Conference for Nordic countries, more and more people from abroad attend the event. If you are a foreign Rotaractor, what is your motivation to attend such a conference ? If you are a Nordic Rotaractor, what do you think about the fact that foreign Rotaractors come to Nordact ?

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  1. #1 by cloebernier on October 30, 2012 - 12:29

    Dear Friends and Rotaractors,

    For one of my courses at university (crossmedia publishing), I have to spread one of my articles on social media and animate a discussion about it. The article I chose is about 3 experiences I’ve had this autumn with Rotaract : ShelterBox Challenge Amsterdam, REM Kyiv and Nordact Odense.

    During the next 3 weeks (one per event), I will ask YOU different questions to get your opinion about those 3 events. I do it mostly for my course, but we could also use it for Rotaract purposes, depending on the answers we get !

    The questions will be posted at the bottom of the article, and also as comments on Facebook ! I count on you to participate🙂

    A big THANKS in advance !

    Cloé

  2. #2 by cloebernier on October 30, 2012 - 12:31

    Question 1 (30.10.2012) • For the people among you who participated in the ShelterBox Challenge, what was your favorite challenge and why ? And how do you think it raised awareness for the cause ?

    • #3 by Michael Ziedins on November 12, 2012 - 20:42

      Question 1, I didn’t actually attend the Shelterbox weekend. However in terms of awareness for the cause in general there were a lot of stories/photos and videos posted on Facebook/Twitter and a few other national website which would have no doubt raised awareness after the event.

  3. #4 by Laura on November 1, 2012 - 11:00

    My favorite challenge was making fire! Especially because we actually made fire, but also because it tested our teamwork already in an early stage in the challenge. It raised mainly awareness for me, to see how hard it is to work together in a stressfull situation. Together with the other challenges (for instance giving trough information at NEMO, Science Centre) it made me realise that being in a SRT is a increadably hard job!

  4. #5 by cloebernier on November 12, 2012 - 00:24

    Question 2 (12.11.2012) • During REM in Kyiv, a football tournament was organized to raise awareness and funds to finance special wheelchairs for children with disabilities, so they can play football. What do you think of the idea of a social project during a REM, in general ? What project would you suggest to the organizers of the next REMs ?

    • #6 by Michael Ziedins on November 12, 2012 - 21:25

      A social project during a REM is a really nice idea. Not only does it add a focus but it also adds a theme which the REM can be organised around. The football in Kyiv was obviously due to Ukraine being one of the co-hosts of EURO 2012. Any sport works as a fundraiser. Basketball, Football, Rugby (Touch), Rounders/Softball/Baseball, Volleyball, Frisbee, School Sports Day, which would work if you were raising money for an educational establishment all could work. The project doesn’t have to be just local. For instance WheelPower in the UK are a huge charity which deal with disabled people in sport, you might not of ever heard of them but they are in fact closely related to the founding of the Paralympic movement.

      • #7 by Carla Keller on November 27, 2012 - 09:17

        The idea of a social project during a REM reflects the very core what Rotaract is all about: service without borders. As the biggest part of REM attendants are foreigners to the REM hosting city/country, the localness incl. interaction with local people who benefict from the social project should be the major focus. Also, as time and motivation among the REM participants usually is limited, it should be something rather ‘clean’ and easy to do, that has some fun factor/ to offer to participants. It is important to engage as many RACers as possible.

  5. #8 by cloebernier on November 26, 2012 - 19:07

    Question 3 (25.11.2012) • Even though Nordact is the Rotaract Conference for Nordic countries, more and more people from abroad attend the event. If you are a foreign Rotaractor, what is your motivation to attend such a conference ? If you are a Nordic Rotaractor, what do you think about the fact that foreign Rotaractors come to Nordact ?

    • #9 by Johan Tingström / Country President for Rotaract in Sweden on November 26, 2012 - 20:17

      I´m very happy to see so many “foreign” Rotaractors at Nordact. It gives a wider perspective in discussions and also a chance to make new friends, not only within the nordic countries. I can imagine that it for “foreign” Rotaractors also is very interesting to see a new country and a new culture. All Rotaract meetings, regardless to where it´s hosted, open doors for future meetings between people and a international understanding for the differences between our countries and cultures.

    • #10 by Carla Keller on November 27, 2012 - 09:20

      Nordact is attractive because of the popularity of Nordic countries, of their prosperity, the nice and cool people etc. The Bullerbü Syndrome kicking in😉.
      Also, even though it is pretty small, everybody, even without ever having attended a Nordact, knows of Nordact. They do have an excellent reputation.
      Having attended my first Nordact this year I can only confirm that.

  6. #11 by Simon Ginis on November 27, 2012 - 19:20

    Hello Cloé! First of all thank you for posting this nice picture of our Belgian team @ Nordact Odense earlier this year. Looking forward to see you again in Amsterdam in a couple of weeks!
    cheers
    Simon

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