By Programs for Young Leaders staff
You’re up at 5:30 a.m. for your sunrise meeting. You stay long after the sun goes down to clean up after your club’s event. And, last spring, you raced daylight across twelve time zones to join other Rotarians at a national immunization day. Rotary moments? You’ve got 20. You love everything, from polo shirts to Paul Harris Society pins, except for this mentoring stuff.
For you, youth service has the awkwardness of a school cafeteria, the uncertainty of a drama club trust fall, and the terror of a university quiz on German declension. It’s small wonder you’re first on the list for the highway cleanup, with its predictable neon vests, and last to host an exchange student, advise an Interact club, or mentor Rotaractors.
But now’s the time to see that Rotary’s programs for young leaders give you everything you love about Rotary just with a few more emojis, pizzas, and blazers covered with pins. (That’s right — even more pins than Rotary.) You’ll find the camaraderie of your meeting, the energy of your service project, and the sense of purpose you experienced at your National Immunization Day. Like those other activities, you’ll get back much more than you give — a multi-generational group of friends, inspiring Monday morning stories, and, more than likely, an enhanced social media presence on Snapchat.
- Hang out with 300-500 friends-you-haven’t-met. Whether you’re in Phoenix, Brisbane, or Córdoba, Rotaractors make you feel right at home. Before an hour has passed, you’ll have 20 friend requests. That evening, over sashimi tacos, you’ll expand your palate and broaden your perspective as you hear how Rotaract clubs make positive change happen.
- Laugh, cry, and learn at RYLA. RYLA is a transformative experience that takes young people out of their comfort zones to discover their leadership potential. As a volunteer, you’ll be part of that RYLA magic when you stay up until 2 a.m. to build a soda bottle and duct tape boat with “Team Otter.” Don’t be surprised if you cry during the RYLA video montage or suggest a trust fall for your next work retreat.
- See the world through Youth Exchange in your hometown. Hosting a Rotary Youth Exchange student means seeing the familiar with new eyes. Boost your brainpower by finally facing those German case endings. You’ll forge new neural pathways as you build world peace. Where else can you do that in three months, except through Rotary?
- Venture into the belly of the beast. Middle school. By mentoring a young Interact club, you’ll guide emerging leaders through the hormonal, emotional, and social challenges of early adolescence. As you plant trees, dance in an anti-bullying flash mob, or throw a pizza party fundraiser, you’ll experience the joy of Service Above Self.
Invest in yourself, and the future of Rotary, by mentoring the enterprising, energizing, and exuberantly unpredictable next generation. Once you’re ready to do P4YL (text speak for programs for young leaders) send a Snap to your district leaders. Don’t worry — that district Rotaract representative from Argentina will teach you how.
Find more “Reasons to love Rotary right now” in the August issue of The Rotarian