By Alexandria Ritchie, a member of the Rotaract Club of Virginia Commonwealth University and the Rotary Club of James River, Richmond, Virginia, USA
Recently, two Rotary friends shared with me the decision taken by the Council on Legislation to allow Rotaractors to also join Rotary. (The Council is where Rotary members gather every three years to discuss changes to the policies governing our organization.)
So I thought I’d give it a try. I am 21, and now also a member of the Rotary Club of James River. Let me tell you a little bit about my experience in Rotary and its young leaders programs from the perspective of a brand new young Rotarian.
My path to Rotary
I joined Rotaract after being a member of my high school’s Interact club. I founded a Rotaract chapter on my campus at John Tyler Community College and have been a loyal member of Rotaract ever since. It’s changed my life. I now represent my entire district as a district Rotaract representative.
How did I make the decision to join a Rotary club? The answer is simple. My sponsor clubs are amazing. We are a family and my Rotary journey wouldn’t be as fulfilling without them.
When I attended the Rotaract Preconvention in Seoul, Korea, this past May, I realized that we needed a Rotaract representative on the RI Board. Rotaract needs a voice — a direct connection to the Rotarians that do so much good for the organization and for the world. This idea might be a lot to ask. [Currently, the RI Bylaws provide for a standing committee, the Rotaract and Interact Committee, which includes at least three Rotaractors.] However, I would encourage clubs to give Rotaract a voice, at the club level, in your districts. This can set the ball in motion to greater representation in the organization overall.
If your club has a Rotaract club, do more than just sponsor them. Invite them to meetings and projects. Really get to know them. Attend their meetings. Allow the president of the Rotaract Club to serve as a non-voting member on your club’s board. I have encouraged Rotary members to try this in my district and it has worked well.
More importantly, invite them to things at the district level. Let them know they have a part to play in Rotary. Let them feel the power of our organization. Introduce them to the district governor, encourage them to attend conferences, seminars, and events with you.
If we do this together, Rotaract will grow. More Rotaractors will join Rotary which is truly the most important goal a sponsor club could have.