By Gabija Trimbel, a member of the Rotaract Club of Vilnius International
I have been around Rotary much of my life. My mother is a member of the Rotary Club of Vilnius International, Lithuania, and almost as early as I can remember, I have been helping with club projects.
When I entered ninth grade in 2009, I convinced a bunch of my friends to help me form the Vilnius International Interact Club, of which I became the charter president. We kept in touch with my mother’s Rotary club, which was our host club, and did many projects with them, including serving as counselors at an annual camp attended by orphans and children from day care centers that served the poor.
As an Interactor, I learned about Rotary Youth Exchange, and was given an opportunity of a lifetime to spend a year in Taiwan that next year. I chose that country as my destination because no one from Lithuania had ever gone on an exchange there before and I wanted to stretch myself. I had been to the United States and I wanted to go somewhere exotic.
Well, Taiwan was certainly that. It is half the size of Lithuania but ten times more crowded. Since I had traveled before, my culture shock was not too bad, but it was an awesome experience learning a new culture.
I made friends from all over the world, and became much more confident and outgoing. One of my favorite parts was a week-long trip around Taiwan with about 30 other exchange students being hosted by the same Rotary district. I met an exchange student from Sweden, and another from Mexico, who became one of my best friends. I have stayed in touch with both, meeting up with the Swedish student in Copenhagen, and linking up with my Mexican friend when she was visiting Warsaw. Thanks to Youth Exchange, I now have friends all over the world!
This year, it became time to take on a new challenge and launch a Rotaract club that would help my friends and I who were getting too old for Interact to stay in the family of Rotary. We also recruited heavily from alumni of a mentoring program run by the Vilnius International Rotary Club for the past eight years. We are excited to grow as a club and reach our full potential helping our local community, and communities around the world.
This fall, I am spending a few months studying abroad at the University of Illinois at Chicago, pursuing a degree in International Business. It has given me an opportunity to visit Rotaract clubs in the Chicago area, and I am convinced the experience will help our still very young club back home.
I can definitely say that thanks to Rotary, and its youth programs, I have become more independent. I’ve learned how to contact important people, and I have a newfound confidence networking with others.
September is New Generations Month. Learn how your club can empower young people through Rotaract, Interact, RYLA, Rotary Youth Exchange, or Rotary’s scholarship programs. Are you a Rotaractor? Take part in a #RACtalk on 14 September.