The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Blog Post: Rotaract Humanitarian Day

Humanitarian Rotaract Day - 1

Members of the Executive Board celebrating after a successful day

Humanitarian Rotaract Day - 2

Conference Attendees listening to a presentation by Catherine Craighead-Briggs '88

Humanitarian Rotaract Day - 3

Conference Attendees listening to a presentation by Yi Yang '14

Humanitarian Rotaract Day - 4

Conference Attendees listening to a presentation by Wendy Cue '90

Humanitarian Rotaract Day - 5

Conference Attendees listening to a presentation by Rotarian Bryn Styles

Article Type 

Written by Lucy Biberman '23

When planning a conference, it is always a good idea to start with an organized list. I found it helpful to see who needs to accomplish each task and the challenges that had arisen while working towards our particular goals laid out neatly in front of me to see all at once. I believe it is fitting to conclude the work for our conference in the same manner as it began: as a list.

1. Don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith. As I emailed the Alumni Relations office to ask to be put into contact with alumni that I had researched online, I felt like I was jumping into the deep end of a swimming pool. However, after talking with those same alumni, I was reminded that some of life’s most enriching experiences can result from those nerve-wracking resolutions. Yi Yang ’14 flew nearly halfway across the world to Senegal to enlist in the Peace Corps, undergoing months of intensive language training in order to implement entrepreneurship initiatives with local women. While she felt that there were improvements she could have made to make her initiatives more successful in the long term, Ms. Yang remains grateful for her time in the Peace Corps and all that it taught her.

2. Don’t get discouraged if your plans don’t succeed the first time around. While the Executive Board was disheartened that we didn’t receive more RSVPs for our event, Wendy Cue ’90 reminded us that important projects often take time and stamina to perfect. As a Senior Coordinator at the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Ms. Cue discussed the importance of maintaining her mental and physical well-being amidst combatting long-standing conflicts in places like the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ms. Cue’s inspiring talk reminded us all that goals are not achieved immediately, and often take decades of hard-work and planning to be attained.

3. Be assertive and genuine when asking for what you want. While planning our conference, our Board often skirted around the difficult issue of asking for funding. Catherine Craighead-Briggs’ ’88 herculean efforts fundraising for the Dartmouth College Fund often involve asking wealthy alumni point-blank if they will donate, often bringing up figures from past donations or funding targets they are looking to achieve. Ms. Craighead-Briggs finds that being genuine and honest with donors, providing straightforward information about what the organization will do with their money, often leads to the most successful results. Authenticity radiates through a computer screen and often makes a more compelling argument than complicated statistics or plans.

4. Don’t forget to take a moment to reflect and be thankful. Bryn Styles, former chair of the Rotary Peace Centers, practically radiated with joy talking about his experience traveling the globe promoting graduate peace-keeping education. Mr. Styles reminded us all that involvement in Rotary can lead to incredible opportunities, such as friends from around the globe, scholarship opportunities, networking connections, and much more.

As the Executive Board recapped the day’s events on our final Zoom call of the day, we paused to relish in each other’s company and be thankful that Rotaract had brought us together. The Rotaract Board would like to thank the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for their generous help with funding our event. We learned invaluable lessons about life in humanitarian service, and we are excited to apply these teachings to our club's work in the future.

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences