I always wondered how a Rotary club could be virtual and make it work over the internet, so I decided to join join Rotary e-Club West of England to find out! I will share my experience with you how the club works.

I know about social media like Facebook and Linkedin, but how can one be involved in complicated fundraising projects and community service with people miles apart, from different backgrounds and living in different areas of Europe, the Middle East and Africa?One day, I received an email from the web conferencing service zoom with a formal invitation to join my first Rotary e-Club meeting the following day. That next day, after installing the Zoom software on my laptop, I went online and had my first Rotary e-Club meeting. Very exciting!

The online meeting started with a warm welcome from president Jacqui, who is based in the UK, and a short introduction from all the club members present in the meeting. It was all very welcoming and at least now I knew who I was talking with. What struck me the most was the diversity of the persons involved in the e-Club. There were persons from all age groups and all walks of life, both men and women and are living scattered across Europe. For me, this diversity is the big strength of the e-Club. The Rotarians I met all have in common that they are actively engaged in community service with a strong link to local Rotaract or Rotary clubs in their home area.

The great advantage of a Rotary e-Club in my opinion is that you can join independent of your location or work situation, so if you are a Nomad and move every couple of months for a job or if you are a business(wo)man and travel for work a better part of the year, you are not necessarily obliged to change clubs or book a visit at a different club. The Rotary e-Club West of England is always with you in your laptop and phone, you just need to connect to Zoom for the meeting and you are involved. This is very important because one great advantage is that there is consistency in the different projects and it deepens the ties with other group members in the club.

Back to my first meeting. We discussed through our webcams about club matters, ongoing projects and new initiatives. Even while online, the meeting felt very real and the projects are making a impact in the world.

Several projects are local, and often have a link with other clubs in the Rotary family. Other projects have a more international nature and take place during international conventions all over Europe.  There are even projects that are completely virtual and take place on social media alone.

Meetings take between one and two hours on average and are in held in English. I learned so far about a project with a local radio station in England, the Lets Loop Swindon project focussing on people with hearing disabilities, a wine tasting event in Bratislava and a Cheese and Wine evening held in Austria.. All very real projects with measurable results!

After following the bi-monthly meetings for several months and learning about the e-Club and its Rotarians, I felt comfortable to join my first project. So far, we are still in the planning faze, but it will involve a photo contest on Facebook to raise funds and create awareness for Rotary. All very exciting!

The next step for me will be my first physical meeting. I can imagine what you are thinking, “I thought this was an online club?” Well, Rotarians of the Rotary e-Club West of England are also meeting in person twice a year in an official meeting in England. Moreover several members see each other several times a year during international events organised by Rotary or Rotaract.

If you are interested to join the Rotary e-Club West of England, please send a message via the website.

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