Editor’s note: Each November, Rotary celebrates the chartering of the first Interact Club during World Interact Week. Interact is Rotary’s program for youth age 12-18. The following is a post written by Adam Arents, Rotary Programs staff, earlier this year.
During the course of my work monitoring social media for Rotary’s youth programs, I get to hear lots of great stories about Interact clubs. But nothing could have prepared me for the onslaught of Interact memories I heard while staffing the Interact 50th anniversary booth at the 2013 RI Convention.
We had a simple idea for the booth: create a timeline of Interact highlights from the 50 years of the program’s existence, then invite people to write down their own experiences participating in service projects or growing as leaders through their participation in an Interact club.
We provided the sticky notes, and nearly 200 people used them to record their Interact memories. Enthusiastic groups of current Interactors descended on the booth to talk about how they had donated computers to schools, organized fundraisers for ShelterBox, and in one case, coordinated an Interact leadership conference for 2400 attendees.
Early days of Interact
Rotarians stopped by to share memories as well, sometimes from the early days of Interact. I got to meet a charter member of the first Interact club in India (chartered in 1962), and the president of the first Interact club in the Republic of Ireland (chartered in 1972).
Several people told stories about how they started in Interact before going on to become Rotary club presidents and district governors. One woman even met a young man in her Interact club whom she would later go on to marry.
By the end of the convention, I was amazed by the power of Interact clubs to ignite a passion for service and form lifelong ties to Rotary. I was also inspired to see how the Interactors of today are carrying on the tradition of leadership and volunteerism as they chart a course for Interact’s future.