By Emily Wood, Rotaract Club of South-West Brisbane, Australia
I’ve been a member of Rotaract — Rotary’s community service and professional development program for young leaders age 18-30 — for ten years. As I age out or “graduate,” I’ve started thinking about what Rotaract has done for me and how it’s shaped who I am today. A decade is a long time to stick with something. So, why have I?
Opportunity. Through Rotaract, I’ve had the opportunity to do many amazing things:
- I’ve traveled the world to experience different cultures and participate in projects.
- I’ve lived and studied abroad as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar.
- I’ve attended four Rotary International Conventions (Montreal, Bangkok, Lisbon and Sydney) where I’ve heard from and connected with some truly impressive individuals who are making the world a better place.
- I’ve attended RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Award), a week-long personal and professional development program that helps you figure out what you want in life and equips you with the skills you need to achieve your goals.
- I’ve received training in leadership, time management, project planning, event coordination, public speaking, governance, and much more.
- I’ve served on local, national and international committees, helping shape the future of this great organisation.
- I’ve been given free rein to develop and implement public relations, marketing and advertising campaigns for my club and district.
Experience. At the age of 23, I was invited to serve on the Rotary District 9630 Public Relations Committee. In my first year, I helped deliver new brand positioning (informed by research I undertook as part of my post-graduate degree), a bus advertising campaign, a new district website, new marketing collateral, and media and communication skills training. I will be forever grateful to the Rotarians who put their faith in me, and gave me the opportunity to test and further develop my skills. Not many people receive opportunities like this so early in their careers.
Confidence. Long gone is the girl who was terrified of public speaking — or even putting forward opinions in a meeting. Rotaract helped me overcome my fears. It’s amazing how fear slips away when you are in a comfortable, supportive environment, surrounded by people who share your passions. As president of my club, I gained invaluable people and project management skills, and developed the confidence to chair meetings, plan projects and run training sessions. I’ve since served as a keynote speaker and panelist at local, national and international conferences, speaking to audiences of 200-plus people. I’ve also established a reputation at work for being calm and confident under pressure.
Life-long friendships. Rotaract has given me the most amazing network of friends — here at home and in almost every corner of the globe. These wonderful individuals have made my life so much richer. They are passionate and talented, and make a real and tangible difference in the lives of others. We’ve shared many adventures and I look forward to sharing many more.
This week is World Rotaract Week. It’s the last time I’ll be celebrating as a Rotaractor, but not the last time I’ll be celebrating this great organisation.
If you’re a young adult aged 18 to 30 interested in helping others, developing new skills and having a great time, then Rotaract is for you. Find a club and get involved — you won’t regret it!
Celebrate World Rotaract Week 13-19 March. Share what you are doing on social using #WorldRotaractWeek to be featured on our hashtag wall.