Hosting an Open World Program:

Bringing Another Part of the World to Your Club

Carolyn Feuille, Rotary Club of Nevada City


Learning Objectives:

  1. Find out how and when to apply to host an Open World delegation.
  2. Discover four benefits of conducting an Open World program.
  3. Identify 4-5 keys to having a successful program.


In September 2014, when our Rotary club decided to apply for the Open World program and host a visiting delegation from Kazakhstan in 2015, we really didn’t know what we were getting into.  The application process was thorough and a bit rigorous.  It required us to really think through what our community had to offer a group of young professionals coming here to learn directly about American entrepreneurship, our chosen theme. Then, on acceptance, we found it necessary to spend months on planning our entire program for this short, eight-day learning intensive.  We underestimated how much work it would be to find host families among our club members, how easy it was to engage entrepreneurial companies and other organizations in our midst to participate with us, and just how much fun it would all be. We really didn’t know how our nascent relationships with our delegates would develop into long-term friendships.  In fact, our friendships have continued, and we just had a Zoom gathering in April (2020), almost five years later.                

Purpose of Open World

  • It is a leadership program sponsored by Congress that promotes U.S. diplomatic ties, trade, political, security and cultural interests for delegations from former Soviet satellite countries, including Central Asia, Serbia, Ukraine and Russia.  It is designed to share U.S. business and government practices to enhance understanding and cooperation between Eurasian and American leaders.   
  • Participating delegates learn directly about American practices in one of these themes:  business, environmental protection, education, democratic form of government, and women’s leadership.  The program is paid by the U.S. Congress and open to Rotary clubs in the U.S.  Alumni often continue relations through an alumni network. See:

Learning about social entrepreneurship at Pride Industries, Grass Valley, CA

Learning about the Broadcast Industry in Nevada City, CA


Keys to Hosting a Delegation 

  1. Provide a substantial program that includes professional meetings, cultural activities, opportunities for delegates and hosts to get acquainted, share meals, and a few social activities.
  2. Arrange for a homestay for the OW delegates and an interpreter.
  3. Provide transportation to and from airport, to all scheduled activities, and for shopping.
  4. Maintain an open mind; show curiosity to learn about the delegates’ country (before and during their stay) and their pre-visit impressions of Americans.  Remember that cross-cultural communication may be confusing.  When we took our delegation to San Francisco on a day-long trip, during lunch our guests finally told us what they really wanted to see in lieu of everything else for the day.  They just wanted to see the ocean!  Kazakhstan is a landlocked country, and most the delegates had never seen an ocean, ever.
  5. The organizing committee in your Rotary club must prepare at least 4-5 months in advance.  At completion, submit a final report, photos, and expense reimbursement report to Rotary International.

Welcome Dinner with Hosts

Benefits of Hosting an Open World Delegation  

Of the many benefits to participating in Open World, our club identified these above all:
  1. The cultural exchange brings another part of the world to your community for mutual learning and fun
  2. There is very little cost to Rotary Clubs, as almost all expenses are reimbursed.  Rotarians have no travel expenses either.
  3. Club members and delegates develop more international understanding.  In the Nevada City Club, we got to know much more about Kazakhstan and the delegates learned a lot about entrepreneurship in the U.S. and family and social life from their homestay experience, and Rotary International.
  4. The “multiplier effect” - thanks to live radio shows and a large social event open to the public, our club got attention and recognition.  Taking our delegates to several companies and the County Board of Supervisors made the delegates aware of what our community has to offer in small business and government support of business. And our local community and club members got acquainted with Kazakhstan.  Nevada City Rotary became Twin Clubs with Astana, Kazakhstan Rotary Club two years later.
  5. Open World really opened the doors for future work of Nevada City Rotary in the local community. All the tours we set up and presentations the organizations made during these visits helped to enhance our credibility as purposeful and invested in both local and international success.  For example, we received a strong response from 15 schools to start a Girls Who Code program.  Our fundraisers did especially well that year.

KVMR Radio Interview on Open World Delegation.

How to Get Started

  1. Take a look at the Open World website for lots of details:
  2. Contact Natalia Kunzer at RI for more information and an application:
  3. Apply in August - early September for the following year.  Choose a delegation by purpose/theme, date, and country.
  4. Once accepted, begin recruiting Host Families.
  5. Plan and organize delegates' program – visits to companies or schools, government offices, social & cultural events.
From my perspective of directing the program, the Open World experience is exhilerating and exhausting!  It’s intense, especially if you provide a homestay and accompany the delegates in their activities. It was very enjoyable and rewarding, worth all the hard work, especially since the delegates have maintained contact, and one has even become a Rotarian. Open World is definitely my most exciting service in my seven years as a Rotarian.

Having Fun at Ocean Beach, San Francisco!

Another article on Open World by Carolyn is available on the RI website:

Experts on Open World

- Carolyn Feuille, Rotary Club of Nevada City,
- Helen Hankins, Rotary Club of Elko Desert Sunrise,