By Marty Peak Helman, governor of District 7780 (parts of Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, USA)
What could be more exciting than bringing a bus-load of Interactors from District 7780 in Northern New England to the Big Apple for Rotary-UN Day? The annual event includes a special program for Interactors and Youth Exchange students, and a chance not only to learn more about Rotary opportunities, but also to meet like-minded youth from all over the world.
But then, just a few days prior to our departure, Hurricane Sandy hit. We held our breath — and learned to our delight that even though the New York Marathon was canceled, Rotary-UN Day would go on!
We gathered at midnight in southern Maine to board the bus, and traveled through the night to reach New York City. After a quick change of clothes and breakfast at a Dunkin Donuts, our 48 youth and 10 adult chaperones arrived at UN Headquarters promptly at 8 a.m.
What a thrill it was for the youth to have their picture taken with RI President Sakuji Tanaka. It was also a thrill for them to sit at the desks where the UN Ambassadors sit, with the names of each delegate’s country on the desk. The program told us about projects that Interactors could get involved with, and ways to strengthen our Interact clubs. President Sakuji spoke to the youth, and told them that they are the change agents of the world, and that they must work hard to accomplish their dreams and be the best they can be.
At the program’s end, we left the UN to walk to the Empire State Building, and rode the elevator up to the observation tower on the 86th floor. Afterward, there was time to go shopping in Times Square, dinner at Bubba Gumps, and a Broadway musical. We arrived back in New Hampshire and Maine early in the morning.
It was an amazing day in New York — even if this particular day ran about 30 hours long! The Interact youth came home with new knowledge about themselves, about Rotary, and about what it takes to build peace. Already, we are making plans to go again next year!
- Read more about Rotary-UN Day
- Learn more about Interact
- Read how other clubs are celebrating the program’s golden anniversary
- Enter the Interact Video Contest