Rotary Youth Exchange exceeded my expectations

Jurag Gago visiting the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA.

Jurag Gago visiting the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA.

By Jurag Gago, a Rotary Youth Exchange Student from Slovakia to the United States

I am from the Slovak Republic, right in the heart of Europe. It is a small country bordered by Austria, Hungary, Ukraine, Poland, and the Czech Republic. I grew up in Trenčín with my brother, Martin and my mom and dad.

I just returned from one of the most wonderful experiences in my life. The Rotary Club of Trenčín in District 2240 decided to sponsor me for a Rotary Youth Exchange to Chicago, where I was hosted by the Rotary Club of Aurora Sunrise in a suburb of that great city. I was excited about the exchange because I knew it would challenge me a lot and I wanted to see how far I could grow on a personal and mental level. It gave me all that I could ever have expected. Continue reading

Using social media to show the lighter side of Rotary

One of Evan Burrell's selfies from the Rotary International Convention in Sydney.

One of Evan Burrell’s selfies from the Rotary International Convention in Sydney.

By Evan Burrell, a member of the Rotary E-Club of Greater Sydney

I like to present a lighter, more fun, more humorous side to Rotary on social media. I find it grabs people’s attention, member and non-member alike.

I come up with new, sometimes silly, ideas that inspire people and make them laugh — like using photo editing software to post a picture of Paul Harris taking a selfie, or posting a video of Past RI President Ron Burton dancing Gangnam Style, or posting an eye-catching image using #WeAreRotary. It’s all meant to get a response or reaction. Continue reading

Why we can’t afford to ignore social media

Interactors during a photo break at the Rotary Convention in Sydney, Australia.

Interactors during a photo break at the Rotary Convention in Sydney, Australia.

By Marilyn Axler, a member of the E-Club of South Jersey, and Rotary Global History Fellowship board member

I have been using social media to promote Rotary for three years now, posting on LinkedIn and other platforms to connect with others and share Rotary’s message. From time to time, I hear from members who are uncomfortable with social media. They say they feel it is invasive and they bring up concerns for privacy and safety.

Could it be that they are also afraid to embrace change? I agree the telephone is still the best way to communicate sometimes. But social media is clearly where it is at for younger people. Can we really afford to ignore the “new age of communications?” Continue reading

Traveling around the world experiencing Rotary

By Brian Rocha, a member of the Rotary Club of Goleta, California, and District 5240 Public Relations Chair

I’ve done a bit of traveling in my life. But recently, I got an urge to turn my travel experience into something much more rewarding. I wanted to travel not just to travel, but to make an impact and make a difference in the world.

I pitched the idea to my Rotary club and Rotary International, and they were in full support. Support in terms of moral support. I financed the trip myself. So last year, I began an eight month journey visiting several different countries around the world, capturing pictures and video throughout the experience. Continue reading

Taking Rotary into the next generation

Members of the recently chartered Rotary Club of Plaza Matriz in Montevideo, Uruguay. Photo courtesy of Erin Mills

Members of the recently chartered Rotary Club of Plaza Matriz in Montevideo, Uruguay. Photo courtesy of Erin Mills

By Erin Mills, Rotary Scholar and charter member of the Rotary Club of Plaza Matriz in Montevideo, Uruguay

A little over six years ago, I packed my luggage and boarded a plane for Montevideo, Uruguay, as an  Ambassadorial Scholar from Arizona, USA, to that tiny corner of the world I now call home. It’s where I teach future English language educators at the University of Montevideo, where I teach middle school children from around the world at the American International School, and where 24 young professionals and I are taking Rotary into the next generation.  Continue reading

Interactor says Youth Exchange is unforgettable

Youth Exchange students in Europe.

Youth Exchange students in Europe.

By Augusto La Colla, a Rotary Youth Exchange student from Villa Regina, Argentina, to Muenster, Germany

Through my Interact club in Argentina, I learned of an opportunity last year to go on a Rotary Youth Exchange to Muenster, Germany. I want to echo what others have said on this blog, that Youth Exchange is an unforgettable experience.

I had the pleasure of staying with two families in Germany — the Kirchhoffs and Beikers — and I consider both part of my family. Getting to know the German culture, to be a part of it, and to be immersed in it, I developed a new appreciation for my home country, and the world beyond. It made me realize just how amazing this world is, and gave me a desire to work to make the world a better place.  Continue reading

My Rotary Youth Exchange — this year has opened my eyes

Victoria Alvarez and other youth exchange students during their trip to the West Coast of the United States.

Victoria Alvarez and other youth exchange students during their trip to the West Coast of the United States.

By Victoria Alvarez, a Rotary Youth Exchange student from Argentina to the United States

Most of you have probably heard of Rotary Youth Exchange, and maybe some of you have even been involved with the program. I recently completed my exchange year in the United States, and wanted to share the perspective of someone who has just taken part in one.

I come from Argentina, a little country on the edge of South America that you may have heard of recently because of the World Cup. It is in many ways very different from the United States. In signing up for an exchange to America, I stepped out alone into a culture unlike any I had experienced, in an unfamiliar environment, in a house I did not know, to live with people I did not know. Leaving behind family, friends, and most of what was familiar. Continue reading

Speaking up for Rotary Youth Leadership Awards

Darren Luong, left, and Matt Pomeroy receive cetifications from District 7090 for their work with youth service.

Darren Luong, left, and Matt Pomeroy receive certificates from District 7090 for their work with youth service.

By Darren Luong, a member of the E-Club of Southern Ontario, Canada & Western New York

Sixteen years ago, as a student at Cardinal Heights Middle School in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, I received an award from the local Rotary club at my graduation. I didn’t know what Rotary was or even why I had received the award. Time went by and it was forgotten at the bottom of some boxes packed away.

Eight years later, I was sponsored to go to a Rotary Youth Leadership Awards event in my district. This life-changing week and the support from Rotary throughout my life has convinced me that this organization is full of amazing people that can really change the world for the better. Continue reading

My time with ‘Future Rotarians’ in Sydney

Participants in the 2014 International RYLA.

Participants in the 2014 International RYLA.

By Dr. Mona Khanna, a former Rotary Group Study Exchange fellow

If you were at the 2014 RI Convention in Sydney, Australia, this week, you may have seen the sticker “Future Rotarian” on some badges. Chances are the badges belonged to members of Rotaract and/or delegates to the 2014 International Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) development program. Continue reading

Home doesn’t have just one name: lessons from a youth exchange

Rotary Youth Exchange students from several countries in Paris.

Rotary Youth Exchange students from several countries in Paris.

Elizabeth, a Rotary Youth Exchange student from District 6080 (Missouri, USA) to France

I used to think that the sky only stretched on for as far as I could see, and then where my vision became blurred, the world ceased to exist.

I used to think that happiness came from surrounding myself with things that brought me comfort. I used to think the best friends I would ever have were the ones I’d known forever. I used to think that in order to call someone family meant they had to be related by blood. And I used to think that home only had one name. Continue reading