By Kate McKenzie, a member of the Rotary Club of Randwick, New South Wales, Australia
Since joining Rotary, I have discovered the ultimate travel accessory, my Rotary hat. Not only does it keep the sun off my Celtic skin, but it advertises my connection to Rotary.
I currently live in Sydney with my husband, but grew up on a farm in the southern part of Western Australia. It’s one of the most isolated and beautiful parts of the world, but it’s also what inspired me to be interested in other cultures and what led me to Rotary.
Our farm borders a national park, with flat farmland stretching for miles in front of a range of blue mountains. In the ’70s, my uncle and dad decided to set up a business accommodating tourists. International visitors often arrived in the evening without food not realizing the nearest shops are a half hour away. “No worries,” my dad would say, “We’ve got lamb roast back at our place.” Our house was always full of new friends from different parts of the world. These experiences made me curious about the places our visitors came from and led me to study languages.
The year I turned 13, I went away to boarding school in Perth and had the opportunity to start learning Japanese and French. At 15, I spent 10 months in Japan on an exchange with our sister school. When I applied for Rotary Youth Exchange, I wrote on the form that I would go anywhere where they didn’t speak English, and thus celebrated my 18th birthday in Argentina. One more sojourn in Japan brought my exchange total to three.
I visited several Rotary clubs over the years but at 35, when I finished my postgrad studies, I finally joined Rotary as I had always intended. A little over two years later and I am loving it!
I have always been interested in meeting new people. This is something I inherited from my dad, who could talk to anyone, in car parks, cafes, on walking paths, anywhere. Now, whenever I travel, my Rotary hat goes with me. On a recent trip to Melbourne, I ran into three Rotarians from different clubs — instant new friends!
So my challenge to you is to wear the Rotary logo big and bold whenever you go for a walk, or to the gym, or down the beach, or out and about. Wear your Rotary pin to work every day. You never know when you might run into another Rotarian or a former exchange student or youth program participant that you can invite to visit your club. Share your pictures on social media and show just how much fun you can have making friends in Rotary. And one day we may meet and I can invite you over for lamb roast.
- Learn more about how you can make new friends and exchange ideas through Rotary
- Learn more about starting a Rotary Youth Exchange
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Like your comments and attitude, as President of my local club Oswestry Borderland here in the UK I share your enthusiasm for everything that we do in Rotary. I visit Sydney regularly and would love to communicate and perhaps ave the opportunity of meeting up in 2015 on my next visit meantime if you are in the UK you have an invitation to visit and meet our members ( we have 10 new members in the last 15 months ! Making over 50 in the club) so we are doing something right!
YIR, Merrick Corfield
Thanks for your comment! I got the hat from the Rotary Down Under online store http://www.rdushop.com.au/. They also have some warm clothing in the range. Sydney definitely has some sunny days in June.
Love this Kate. Such a simple idea, especially in Rotary Awareness month. Somehow don’t think I’ll need it for our December trip to the UK though. Sydney a definite though. Well I hope we see enough sun to need a hat in June 🙂
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