Several years ago I was introduced to Rotary International through the Rotary Peace Fellowship. The Rotary Peace Fellowship is the chance for peace-builders from around the world to obtain an MA in Peace Studies at a Peace Centre university (there are six around the world) after a rigorous two year programme. The more I learned about the fellowship, the more it became my goal and very quickly my obsession!
I applied in 2017 and was not successful. I thought my application was strong, but on reflection I could see that I talked a lot about what I wanted to do in the future with passion but without focusing enough on proving myself as someone who already supports peace and education development. I spent the following 18 months focusing on volunteering for global education charities and having as big an impact on peace, education, and community development as possible. It’s an exciting way to approach each opportunity “how can I make this count?” And as a result I’ve found myself far more positive about trying new things and reaching out to new people.
Along the journey I made some great friends too. I was able to network with some current peace fellows who have offered pearls of wisdom as well as some doctorate students looking at similar areas of research. I have found myself in the privileged position of making friends around the world through the application process alone. I have found incredible support from gifted and impactful Rotarian’s in the UK. In focusing on my goal in this way, I started volunteering more with charities I greatly respect, supporting them to achieve their awesome visions, like literacy advancement charity Words Alive and arts education non-profit Artsmith.
In 2018 I applied again for the second time. In November 2018 I was given the news that I had been awarded an alternate status of the fellowship. This meant that if someone else was unable to progress with the fellowship, I would be one of several people considered for the position. Only 50 MA positions are offered around the world each year, ten at each Peace Centre University in Japan, Australia, America, the UK and Sweden. During the application process you have to select your first and second university choice and you need to ensure this choice is carefully considered and meaningful. I had been to visit the university campus in Japan several times and engaged in keen conversations with professors and current students. Consequently, my heart was set on becoming a Rotary Peace Fellow at the International Christian University-ICU, Tokyo.
By December 2018 I had submitted my MA thesis proposal to ICU, which was part of the process of being an alternate, so that if you were upgraded to fellow, the university admissions team could next ensure you meet their criteria. This means the application process is two-fold, firstly for the Rotary Peace Fellowship scholarship and then into the actual university. My thesis proposal grew into something I am extremely proud of, as a I was able to really develop on my ideas around technology, literacy, and female empowerment. I got passionate and enthused by the subject area and literally ached to be upgraded and offered a fellowship. Several months passed and we arrived at March 2019. I had finally decided to refocus and start making plans after Dan was offered a job in Tokyo. I longed for the fellowship but I realised not all things are meant to be.
However, the stars aligned.
On the 16th March 2019 I received the life changing news that I had been selected as a Rotary Peace Fellow at ICU class of XVIII, receiving a full scholarship for the two year programme starting in August 2019. Over one week on after this news and I am still struggling to come to terms with it! It is going to change my life in so many ways and support me to become the peace-builder I know I can be. It has been an emotional week for me, as I have reflected with family members on a difficult start in life, but I understand all of the things that make up my experiences have made me the woman I am today. And this woman will do all she can to bring out the voices of the 550 million illiterate women around the world today. To that end, promoting peace starts here, follow my journey (starting slowly at first) on the peace fellowship by checking out peace.ourjapanstory.co.uk