Amherst Rotary, World Globes, and the Butterfly Effect

Submitted by: Randall Gravley, President Rotary Club of Amherst

                The Rotary Club of Amherst presents each second grader in Amherst County Public Schools with a world globe. This is an ongoing tradition that is welcomed by students and teachers alike. While on the surface, the project may seem to be simply presenting a gift to a student, it is more likely to be a much more meaningful endowment.

                The long term results of many service projects that Rotarians undertake could be likened to a scientific theory called the “butterfly effect”.  According to the theory, a small change in one place can lead to a very large change or result somewhere else. The prime example is the effect of a butterfly’s flapping wings, say in China becoming magnified over time and distance until the eventual result becoming a hurricane in New York City.

                How does this theory relate to Rotary and World Globes? The gift of a globe hopefully will spawn great outcomes. While the students are very grateful to receive such a gift, there is a significant potential for greater long term results. The globe allows students to literally see the relation of countries to each other; to see where their location is in the world, to begin to understand what the term “global” might actually mean, and to begin to form a curiosity about their place in the world. While long term results are not known at the time a globe is presented, there is a potential that the globe can sow a seed for a student to reach far beyond their home and into the world.

                While the “butterfly effect” is just a theory, Rotarian service projects are proven to be sources of good deeds that truly lead to far reaching results. Whether presenting a child with a world globe, providing a clean drink of water to that same child, or through other special projects, Rotary continues to sow seeds of support, encouragement and hope throughout the world.

              And, what about the giver? Spinning a globe and thinking about “doing good in the world” opens a Rotarian’s mind to endless possibilities of how to help others who are less fortunate. Looking in the face of a child who receives the gift of a globe, a drink of clean water, or a dose of polio vaccine is worth more than silver and gold. It is what makes Rotarians who they are and why Rotarians continue to believe in and live by the motto “Service Above Self”.