Mar 042009
Authors: Phoenix MourningStar

After writing columns about camping in tree-houses to save forests in Scotland and witnessing a single woman educating school-aged children about environmental sustainability in a school with no windows in T’bilisi, Georgia a few months after their conflict with Russia, now being tied to campus getting down to the business of becoming educated almost feels surreal.

But how can we make sure the outside world filters into our education on these sometimes “insulated” college and university campuses? Making real, personal connections to the world beyond the classroom where innovation and creativity flow has been a struggle educators have been studying for years — and one which CSU has been excelling at for a long time.

Just off of the Oval in Laurel Hall, we’ve got some of the best and most well traveled staff I’ve ever met in the International Programs Office willing and able to help students get “out there.”

CSU’s affiliation with the Peace Corps is alive and strong. This week, we hosted a special guest from the United Nation’s World Food Program. And I have to mention our faculty and post-docs involved in international research in Guatemala, Iraq, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, India, etc. Without a doubt, CSU has global roots.

There are a number of organizations around the world doing good work: The United Nations is one of the first to come to mind, then there’s USAid, the World Wildlife Foundation and Habitat for Humanity. If you want to be a little more extreme there’s always GreenPeace and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

One organization I would like to highlight this week is Rotary International, an organization in which a number of faculty, staff and administrators here at CSU who are involved.

The Rotary Club, the world’s first service based club, began in 1905 and emphasizes “service above self.” Rotary is an international organization that addresses local issues through collaboration, teamwork and compassion at the community level by accessing the knowledge, skills and selflessness of individuals within a community.

The cool thing is that the Rotary community is global. Probably one of the most amazing successes of Rotary International is their part in the eradication of Polio (see

In the last couple weeks, I’ve written about our student body becoming motivated and about issues that I am concerned about. Students have written comments ranging from “What is the point?” to “How can I get to travel” and “What could I do?”

In an attempt to get back to writing about travel and overseas shenanigans, the point of this piece is to share an opportunity for CSU students to make memories and adventures of your own.

Besides eradicating Polio, Rotary also supports students to make a difference and play an active role in their communities and abroad through a number of scholarships. We here in Fort Collins are lucky enough to have not one, but four Rotary Clubs (and now a CSU student Rotary organization) supporting students through awards such as the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship.

The Ambassadorial Scholarship is a competitive award which funds a student’s study abroad to any country in the world for two semesters including transportation. The award also comes with the invaluable opportunity to connect with local Rotarians who are doing great work locally, as well as become involved in a project to help better the community hosting the student overseas.

Last year, a fellow CSU student won this award and another recent recipient spent her experience in Ghana. In fact, a Rotary Scholar from Japan chose to attend our university.

This year, the award is up for grabs again. Applications are available at the Office of International Programs and more information can be obtained online. The application deadline is March 12.

This is one of the many awesome opportunities students at Colorado State have access to. Check it out, you won’t be sorry, and I think you’ll find this organization to be one of the best opportunities you can become a part of to make a difference in the world and your life.

Phoenix Mourning-Star is an environmental health graduate student. His column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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