Rotary in the Thames Valley Supporting Peace Fellows

Rotarians across our Rotary district have an opportunity to support Peace Fellowships, funded in full by the Rotary Foundation

Rotarians in the Thames Valley have been fortunate to support Rotary Peace Fellows over the last few years.

Our latest Peace Fellow is Flavia Salazar Sousa, who studied in Bradford from January 2021 to April 2022. Here is her story....

April 2022 marked the end of my Rotary Peace Fellowship at the University of Bradford. Having just learned that I will be graduating from my master’s programme with academic distinction, I cannot help but to take stock of the incredible (and at times hectic) journey that have been past three years, and marvel at how much I have learned and accomplished since.

I first heard about the Rotary Peace Fellowship in early 2019. After seven years working for the British diplomatic mission in Brazil, I was then keen to take a new step in my professional and academic careers. Most of my work had been dedicated to advancing the Women, Peace and Security agenda in Brazil and supporting Brazil’s response to the Venezuelan humanitarian crisis – but I wanted to learn and do more. 

The Rotary Peace Fellowship thus almost sounded too good to be true. I reached out to a Brazilian Peace Fellow before I even started the application process, just to make sure I did fit the profile. And this made all the difference, for not only did he encourage me to apply for the programme, but he also put me in touch with the Rotary Club (District 4621) that had sponsored his application, and which kindly agreed to interview me as well.

This all happened in the span of just a few weeks. I could hardly believe it, therefore, when a few months later I received an email saying that I had been selected for the 2020 Rotary Peace Fellowship. Not even the outbreak of a global pandemic could dampen my excitement then. The programme was postponed until January 2021 and my classes moved into online format – but I was studying in the UK, and I was making the most of it.

Bradford was the Peace Centre of my choice due to its focus on gender and development issues and my professional links with the UK. My master’s included modules on Applied Conflict Research, Security and Development in Fragile Areas, and Natural Resources Management, which I complemented with Gender studies, African Politics, and Development Practices – each more interesting than the other.

More than the scholarship itself, however, the Rotary Peace Fellowship was particularly special for me because of the other Peace Fellows – an incredible group of people from all over the world and with the most amazing backgrounds, whose friendship and support made me want to be a better person every day. The Applied Field Experience (AFE) was another bonus of the programme, providing us with the perfect opportunity for re-entering the job market at the end of our Fellowship.

Indeed, both the AFE and the academic contacts made throughout the programme have generated job offers and opportunities which shall open many doors for me in the future. As I start to head down a new career path though, my plan is to continue to share my experience and advertise the Rotary Peace Fellowship however I can. I want others to have the same opportunity as me of pursuing a post-graduation education abroad, so that we can expand this amazing network of peacemakers even further and continue to share knowledge and experiences in our efforts to make the world a more peaceful, just, and inclusive place.

May 2022

Read about our previous Rotary Peace Fellows.

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