Past Meetings

Recent Meetings:

Guest Speaker: Wouter Jan Strietman

About the speaker: Wouter Jan Strietman is a researcher at Wageningen University, Department of Economic Research. His work is positioned between marine environment, economy and society. He has expertise in sustainable development of fisheries, marine litter and the Arctic development.

About the presentation: In this presentation, Wouter Jan took us take us on a journey to a faraway place; the Arctic. Most people think of this as an unspoilt region, but this is far from the truth.

Even though the Arctic is nearly uninhabited, it’s coasts and seas are becoming increasingly polluted with plastic waste. Most of this litter arrives there through ocean currents from North America, Europe and Siberia, but some of it is also of local origin. This litter accumulates, providing an increasing threat to the environment and local communities.

There is an urgent need to put a halt to this constant inflow of plastic waste. But how can this be achieved? Cleaning up is one solution, but the most effective solution is prevention at the source. In the Artic Marine Litter Project, researcher Wouter Jan and his team are gathering previously unavailable data on the sources of marine litter in the Arctic. In addition, they are engaging local stakeholders and fishing industry experts. The results of this project can be used to take preventive, targeted, action and reduce marine plastic pollution in this region. The project has started in Svalbard (Spitsbergen) and is currently working on upscaling the project to the wider North-Atlantic Arctic region.

The agenda for this meeting will be published in advance by the Board.

About the speaker: Mohamad Daioub, originally comes from Syria and lives in Arnhem, the Netherlands, since 3.5 years. He has various work experiences including more than 10 years of work with International NGOs specialized in the last 5 years in Micro-finance coupled with an Executive MBA.

About the presentation: In my talk, I will give an overview about Microfinance as it is a tool to break the cycle of poverty with economic empowerment and provider of social financial services. Microfinance products and the role it plays in economy and social development including improving the quality of life and woman empowerment.

Guest Speaker: Alejandra Guevara Morel

About the speaker: Alejandra comes from Honduras where she obtained a degree as a medical doctor. Living in the Netherlands since 2016, she has specialised in epidemiology and has recently started a Ph.D. study in Health Technology Assessment at VU Amsterdam. She joined RC Utrecht International in September 2018.

About the talk: ‘Sharing a cross-cultural experience’ is the motto of RC Utrecht International. The club invites every new member to give a presentation in this series within their first year of membership. The speaker is free to talk about his/her home country, personal and professional background and their own cross-cultural experiences. We are curious to learn more about Alejandra in her presentation.

Guest Speaker: Ram Bhat

About the speaker: Ram is a Member of RC Bangalore West, he was the Secretary of the club when it was chartered in 1977! Ram describes him self as a clown, he tries to find humour in everything. He was an Engineer by training and he started his own engineering company which later moved in to construction. 19 years later he switched careers, he wanted to make conditions better for people, starting with the income women receive and can control. Since 1992 has been working on empowering women which led to his work with trafficked women, supporting the NGOs who work directly with the women. In 2012 he started Kshamata (, an NGO based in Mumbai. Kshamata supports women with training and counselling and pushing them, often the women have a negative self image, love and affection is often what the women need to start believing in themselves

  • Kshamata is a Hindi word; it means ability, capability and potential, but also self forgiveness.
    • Current scenario: India is a source, destination and transit country for men, women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking
    • In India, nearly all the trafficked women are forced in to prostitution
    • Women who are rescued end up in institutions (glorified prisons); when their case is closed they are released and nearly all end up back in prostitution
    • Ram’s organisation wants to ensure the women receive:
    • Further education
    • Counselling
    • Life skills/coping mechanisms
    • Soft skills for job preparedness/culture e.g. you will work from 8-5, you can’t take a day off because you have a headache (time and quality consciousness)
    • Options in vocational training
    • Post employment follow up and support (critical; often women last only a few weeks in the first/second/third jobs)
  • Kshamata’s impact since 2012
    • Reached out to 2500 women and girls
    • 700 women engaged on a longer term basis
    • 135 women living independently
    • Repatriated Bangladeshi women
    • Provided income generation opportunities at shelter homes
    • Formed 12 group stay homes
    • Engaged with 11 shelter homes
  • Biggest challenges
    • Willingness of women to try
    • Acceptance by society e.g. its very difficult to find a home to rent in Mumbai for four women with no male in the home
  • The future
    • People around the world talking about trafficking so that something is done about it

Guest Speaker: Berneditha Rijssel-Omusuo
Be the Inspiration

About the presentation: Berneditha will share some thoughts about her work with refugees. She will also talk about the international inspiration that she gets for her work from the Rotary values and ideas.

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Guest Speaker: Henk Korvinus
How secure is it in the Netherlands?

In his presentation, Mr. Henk Korvinus will give us the most actual information on safety
concerning crime and terror threat. What do the numbers and statistics tell us and how are we
looking ourselves towards security issues? He also will tell more about themes like
cybercrime and criminal organizations, active on a national and international level.

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Guest Speaker: Nancy H Chen
MNC s’ Sustainability Strategy and Climate Actions

Nancy Chen is going to share case studies of two Multinational corporates’ sustainability strategy related to climate change and the related climate actions.

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Guest Speaker: Natalia Leal
Sharing a cross-cultural experience

In her talk Natalia will share some of her experiences of her personal and professional life. Natalia comes from Portugal and has lived and worked in four different European countries. She has worked in very different fields with different professional orientation. In September 2018 she started her own business.

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Guest Speaker: Sonia Drannikova
Communication, the Why and the art of storytelling

Every Rotary Club needs a good communication strategy. To promote our projects, to find new members, to promote Rotary as a whole and for so many other reasons. Sonia will talk about communication strategies to give useful tips and tricks for efficient communication. From storytelling to writing a press release or a website article. This can be useful not only for our Rotary work but can enrich your personal and professional style of communication.

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This meeting is dedicated to a discussion of all open issues in the club.

Guest Speaker: Roopa Menta
The Sasha Story – The Art of Giving

Our guest speark Roopa Menta, held a presentation about the fair-trade organization Sasha, and more generally Fair Trade and its impact.

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The first meeting of the new Rotary year took place in the newly-renovated rooms of Coffeemania.

During the summer months, the regular evening club meetings will be replaced by a varied summer programme. Each meeting will be organized by a different member of our club, and will be either a social come-together, a cultural programme, or a mixture of the two.

If you wish to join us, please contact our club secretary!

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At the last meeting of each Rotary year, that is the last meeting in June before the summer break, the chain of office and responsibilities for the club are handed over from the club president to the new incoming president. This years hand-over ceremony from Martha Mghendi to Anouk Masson took place in the home of our club member Charles Groenhuijsen in the city center.

About the presentation: Leo Samama, a member of RC Den Haag Zuid since 1996, will give a ‘short’ talk on ethics and the distinct role that Rotary has in society, followed by a ‘lengthy’ exchange of ideas and discussion on the reason(s) why we are Rotarians. What does being a Rotarian imply, for your membership, for your daily life, at home and at work?

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Martha Mghendi-Fisher sharing a ‘Cross-cultural experience’.

About the presentation: Amal wants to share her experience of her time in the Netherlands as an Rotary Scholar. She will reflect on being an international student, her studies, and her time in the Netherlands.

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About the presentation: Mohammed studied Pharmacy at Damascus University and works in this field for many years, in Damascus, Abu Dhabi and Oman. It is only since 4 years, that Mohammed lives in the Netherlands with his wife and three children. They came here as refugees from Syria. He is working since 2016 for Novo Nordisk, a big pharmaceutical company he was already working for about 10 years in Damascus. He is a member of our club since 2017.

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About the presentation: Since 2000, Conny has, together with a small team of professionals, built up ‘Music Generations’, an organisation that offers a platform for intercultural talent development by organizing performances and concerts for musicians and actors. Since three years ‘Music Generations’ is active with projects that include refugees, giving them possibilities for developing and showing their talents. Conny will tell us about different projects that they did and do for smaller and bigger audiences.

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About the presentation: Charles will give us an insight in the background of his newest book  ‘Optimists own the whole world – 96 reasons to look encouraged into the future’ (November 2017). His tipping points concentrate on things that are successful and give hope for a better world and better life circumstances. World leaders with a vision were able to conquer big problems and misfortune. They all have and had an optimistic view on the possibilities of change.

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Qiang will share his timeline with the changes of China during the passed years, and he will present some elements that build today’s China. The interesting point is, what does today’s China mean to Europe, especially to the EU. Qiang will present it, of course, from his perspective.

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Our new member Eric van Beek will give an outline of his experience gained by initiating and organizing the SingelSwim in Utrecht. The SingelSwim team raised over 360.000 EUR in 3 years. The money is used for stemcell research done at the Hubrecht Institute in order to help finding a cure for a disease called FSHD. “I think I have some cool ideas to pump up the donations for the club.” according to Eric.

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Françoise Clijsen MA ,  Intercultural mindset, skillset and ‘heartset’ ?

In this presentation on intercultural competencies the relationship between intercultural theory and practice will be demonstrated first. Special attention will be paid to the cultural model of Richard Lewis.  In an interactive way Françoise will guide us to explore the specific context of the Dutch business culture. Finally we will exchange ideas about how to broaden intercultural competence effectively.

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In their presentation, Cor Jan and Martijn will give an insight into legislation and regulations in the corporate field. This includes Corporate Ethics, Anti Bribery, Anti-Corruption, Anti-Money Laundering, Combating Terrorism Financing, Sanctions and Export Controls. Being in compliance with legislation is just a first step in protecting your corporation from possible claims and fines. Compliance is broader. The relevant question is: can a legal action or transaction be reputationally harmful? And what can be done to prevent reputational damage? The current tensions on the (North) Korean peninsula are a prime example of what is at stake.

A presentation named “Fieldwork in the Philippines with various humanitarian organisations” will be given by Skye Merrick-Stammers.

Skye Merrick-Stammers has been working as a volunteer for the past 2 years in the Philippines with various humanitarian organisations including the Rotary Club in Tacloban City. In July 2017 she moved to Utrecht to begin a Master’s in Toxicology and Environmental Health at Utrecht University, a WASH related field. Skye has UK, New Zealand and U.S citizenship and she has a B.S. in molecular biology from Humboldt State University in California.

Skye will tell about her experiences with volunteer work in the Philippines. One of her main interests is water and sanitation. She has extended experience with the WASH programme, she also worked with during the last 2 years.

A presentation in the series of ‘Sharing a cross-cultural experience’ is a quite personal report of someone’s life story and professional experience. Our new member Aizza Lee will tell us about herself and the Phillipines.

Informal club meeting with a presentation by our club president
Martha Mghendi–Fisher on her plans for the upcoming Rotary year. There will also be an update on the progress of our Global-Grant project in Landi, Kenya.

Earlier Meetings:

Rotary Club Utrecht International