January 25, 2010
Serbian student Zivkovic attends international convention of Rotarians at United Nations headquarters

Lees-McRae senior business major Marko Zivkovic attended the international convention Rotary International United Nations Day at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York in November. Zivkovic, an international student from Serbia, attended the conference representing the Rotaract Club Nis-Constantine the Great of District 2481, Serbia.

Rotary International [RI] is the world's first service club organization, with more than 1.2 million members in 33,000 clubs worldwide. Rotary club members are volunteers who work locally, regionally and internationally to combat hunger, improve health and sanitation, provide education and job training, promote peace and eradicate polio under the motto Service Above Self.

Rotaract, of which Zivkovic is a member, is a Rotary-sponsored service club for young men and women ages 18 to 30. These clubs are either community or university based and are sponsored by local Rotary clubs. There are more than 7,000 clubs in about 163 countries and are true "partners in service" and key members of the family of Rotary.

"The convention included around 900 Rotarians from around the world and over 600 exchange students and high school students. The convention was organized in different panels including ones focused on water, literacy, health and youth, with each containing several speakers.

"The convention began with a speaker addressing some of the goals of the Rotary International, the problems the world is facing right now, some of the actions that have taken place to combat these problems and other plans for the future on how to better serve society," said Zivkovic.

Within the water panel a presentation was made by an organization called Engineers without Borders, a group of outstanding students from universities in New York. They recently completed a project in Honduras, the second poorest country in Central America. They collected a total of $27,000, with the help of several Rotaract clubs, and built a dam, a pipeline from the dam, a tank for water, a lid, and pipelines for distribution in order to secure clean water for a local community.

Another issue combated by RI is illiteracy. One speaker brought to the attention of the audience that 800 million people in the world cannot read or write and a large number of children die before the age of five because their mothers cannot read medication labels.

Polio is openly fought by RI; though some people might be surprised to learn that Polio is still a threat in four countries: India, Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The message of the Polio panel was "knowing is not enough, we must apply."

Zivkovic, who is a member of the men's tennis team, came away from the convention full of knowledge and experience that he is excited to share with his home country of Serbia and his fellow Bobcats at Lees-McRae.

"The unofficial part was as interesting as the official part. The best things were making contacts and communication with new people.

"When the convention was finished, the Rotaractors had a cocktail party in The Trump World Tower Bar which was really exciting! Part of the entry fee will be used for a project concerning clean water. The trip I made was an incredible experience for the club as well as for me personally. I learned a lot of new things, learned ways to be more creative and got some ideas for possible actions. After this convention our club became more professional and more open to the world," said Zivkovic.

Zivkovic will graduate in May from Lees-McRae and plans to attend graduate school to pursue an MBA in Finance.

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