My mountaintop experience

Sunrise on the summit of Mt. Fuji.

Sunrise on the summit of Mt. Fuji.

By Valentina, a current Rotary Youth Exchange student from the United States to Japan who received round-trip airfare through United’s 10 Million Charity Miles Giveaway.

I have been in Japan for only two weeks, but already so much has happened! The day I arrived I was greeted by local Rotary members and my host mother at the airport. I couldn’t believe I was in Japan. Continue reading

Why what goes on safari shouldn’t always stay on safari

Courtney (center with hat in lap) meets the Rotary Youth Exchange safari earlier this year. Photo courtesy of District 9800

Courtney (center with hat in lap) meets the Rotary Youth Exchange safari earlier this year. Photo courtesy of District 9800

By Emanuel Tumino, a member of the Rotary Club of Footscray, Victoria, Australia

A chance encounter on the side of a dusty road deep in the Queensland Outback will forever change the life of one teen-ager, thanks to the magic of Rotary Youth Exchange.

In March of 2012, I was one of three leaders for our annual safari tour for 16 inbound Youth Exchange students which takes students deep into the Outback for a unique look at Australia’s remote areas. The bus stopped for a coffee break along the highway at a town of about 350 consisting of a few shops, houses, and a post office with the only cappuccino machine in “town.” Continue reading

Using your vocation to mentor students

Students take part in a field trip as part of the Pathfinders program, a project of the Rotary Club of Rappahannock Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA.

Students take part in a field trip as part of the Pathfinders program, a project of the Rotary Club of Rappahannock-Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA.

By R. Scott Lyons, a member of the Rotary Club of Rappahannock-Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA 

How can you use your vocational skills to help students prepare for life after graduation? Three years ago, our club set out to answer that question with the help of Germanna Community College, the Spotsylvania Education Foundation, and our local high school. Here’s what we discovered. Continue reading

Preparing future leaders to pursue peace

Elsa Garcia Soto at the United Nations in New York.

Elsa Soto Garcia at the United Nations in New York.

By Elsa Soto Garcia, Rotaract Club of Mexicali Industrial, Mexico 

Walking through the doors of the United Nations headquarters building in New York was an awesome experience. Sitting in a room full of students from 30 different nationalities, sharing ideas on how to promote the model UN programs in our countries, was even more amazing.

I have been taking part in model UN programs for many years. Continue reading

Rotaract Model UN instills courage

Delegates to the Rotaract Model UN in Romania practice diplomacy.

Delegates to the Rotaract Model UN in Romania learn the discipline of decision-making.

By Alina Cristina Buteica, member of the Rotaract club of Bucharest Triumph, and participant in the first-ever Rotaract Model UN in Romania

The courage to shine and take a stand. The courage to make informed decisions that will impact the world. The courage to find innovative ways for building international dialogue.

These are the things that come to my mind in reflecting on what I learned during the Rotaract Global Model United Nations in  Baia Mare, Romania, 21-25 August. I had just spent a full year working in 10 countries in Africa when a good friend told me about this initiative and encouraged me to apply. I could hardly have imagined what I would experience.  Continue reading

An Interact(ive) approach to leadership training

Students take part in an outdoor training session during District 5180's Interact Presidents and Officers Training Seminar at Sacramento State University. Photo courtesy of Bill Tobin

Students take part in an outdoor training session during District 5180’s Interact Presidents and Officers Training Seminar at Sacramento State University. Photo courtesy of Bill Tobin

By Bill Tobin, assistant governor of District 5180 and a member of the Rotary Club of El Dorado Hills, California, USA

How do you keep a roomful of students and Rotary members awake for leadership training? We discovered recently that busting out of the classroom, and varying the format just a bit, can work wonders. Continue reading

Sculpting stories in the sand to raise money for education

Members of the Rotaract Club of Long Beach pose in front of signs during the sculpture contest.

Members of the Rotaract Club of Long Beach pose in front of signs during the sculpture contest.

By Katie Gaston, a member of the Rotaract Club of Long Beach, California, USA, and the 2013-14 Rotaract and Interact Committee

Picture a beach full of sun and sand. Now picture a giant whale rising out of the sand, and an equally impressive captain Ahab figure leaning against the whale. Further down the beach is a giant head with a pyramid on top, and a rather odd assembly of pipes and gears representing some kind of mechanical contraption.

These were just a few of the impressive sights from my Rotaract club’s recent two-day event, “The 81st Annual Great Sand Sculpture Contest.”  Continue reading

What do you tell your children about Rotary?

Simone and Ariana Collins.

Simone and Ariana Collins.

By Simone Collins, past president of the Rotary Club of Freshwater Bay, Western Australia, Australia

I have never forgotten a conversation I had with a Rotarian who was one of our strongest supporters, back when I was still a Rotaractor. Her own children had never joined Rotary or Rotaract, because they didn’t want to belong to something “boring” like their parents did! I was gobsmacked.

What precisely are we as Rotarians telling our children about Rotary? What do they see? Do they just see you going to “boring” meetings? Or do they see what inspires you about Rotary? Continue reading

Using Facebook to promote Rotary

130828_wagner1By Erin Wagner, a member of the Rotary Club of Minneapolis South, Minnesota, USA

I am a product of Rotary’s youth programs, which taught me some amazing lessons. For example:

Open-Mindedness
A farm girl from Idaho, my youth exchange to France (2001-02) and the associated culture shock taught me to be aware of and question my assumptions, and to recognize that people are people all over the world. Continue reading

Opening doors to service for those with special needs

Members of the Parker Rotary Community Corps

Members of the Parker Rotary Community Corps

By Kam Breitenbach, a member of the Rotary Club of Parker, Colorado, USA, and advisor to the Parker Rotary Community Corps

I have had the privilege to get to know and help support a terrific group of individuals who belong to the Parker Rotary Community Corps (RCC). The RCC, patterned after and sponsored by our club, provides an amazing growth and enrichment experience for teens and adults with special needs. Continue reading