Not only is Rudy Westervelt a certified mediator, humanitarian and business owner, but also he is the Convener and Chair of the Rotary World Peace Conference 2020 in Ontario, California, January 17-18, 2020. For the last two years, Rudy has been working tirelessly to make this conference an unforgettable reality for the expected 2,000 attendees. This conference is a multidistrict event that includes six southern California districts and Rotary District 5050. It is based on the model of the Rotary conference held in 2016 themed “Connecting Leaders and Conflict Resolution Experts with Solutions to Create a Culture of Peace,” where breakout sessions included topics on post-traumatic stress disorder, domestic violence, child abuse, human trafficking, and other pertinent issues.
Looking for Answers
Rudy became involved with Rotary in peacebuilding and conflict resolution and then focused on youth engagement in Rotary districts in southern California. One of his many successes has been organizing annual Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) camps for high school juniors and 7th-grade students. More than 600 youth attend the camp, RYLA 5330. For Rudy, the most impactful part of the camp is the Culture Walk, which helps youth foster a community of their own and provides an understanding that they are not alone. The camp also intentionally creates a supportive environment in which they make long term relationships with other youth.
“Rotarians do not have all the answers, but we are connected to every sector of society”
He stated that “When we collaborate and work together with other organizations… it strengthens what we do and gives us a wider network to reach out and solve conflicts and do good work around the globe.” He identified the importance of the connection that exists between Rotary and MBBI, including in the upcoming conflict resolution trainings which will be held simultaneously as the conference in January 2020 for an expected 500 high school students. The aim of the conference and these youth trainings are to provide attendees with salient take away solutions that they can get behind and make a difference in both their community and globally.
The Rotary World Peace Conference 2020
The 2020 Conference will include a concert, a film viewing and discussion, two dinners honoring community heroes, six general sessions, thirteen themed tracks, an exhibit hall with more than ninety NGOs and a plethora of international changemakers with solutions to current, global issues. Several confirmed keynote speakers include the Rotary International president Mark Daniel Maloney, MBBI founder Kenneth Cloke, Women Cross DMZ founder and executive director Christine Ahn, Tariq Khamisa Foundation founder Azim Khamisa, and the Hilinski’s Hope Foundation founder Kym Hilinski.
The tracks for the upcoming conference are:
- Track A Personal Life and Home
- Track B Education and Literacy
- Track C Community
- Track D Workplace
- Track E International
- Track F Peace Fellows/Peace Graduates
- Track G Human and Civil Rights
- Track H Diplomacy/War
- Track I Religion/Spirituality
- Track J Mainstream and Social Media
- Track K Sustainability
- Track L Global Trade and Economic Development
- Track M Empowering Women
Honoring Those that Save and Change Lives
A special feature of the conference will be the Community Heroes Award Dinner. Rudy asked Rotarians across southern California to identify non-Rotarian change-makers in their communities that have gone out and saved or changed a life in their community or are continuing to do so – they can be either a child or an adult. The purpose is to honor them and acknowledge the good work that they have done. He explained that in a world that is inundated with bad news, this serves as an opportunity to focus and shine a light on the good.
Rudy was optimistic and signed off with the following “There are solutions out there, we just have to find them, report on them, and get support for them.” The Rotary World Peace Conference 2020 will be an event which will give these solutions much-needed exposure.
Article by Kylea Shropshire, MBBI Writer