Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of blog posts from the 2018 Youth Leadership All-Stars, participants in Rotary’s programs for young leaders, in celebration of Youth Service Month.
By Shannon Chow, Rotaract Club of Pudu, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
I first joined Rotaract when I was studying at Taylor’s University in Malaysia, and have now been in my club for close to eight years. Rotaract is a great platform to learn, practice, and exhibit leadership skills, and to be mentored by Rotarians and other Rotaractors. In addition to the professional development I have experienced, I have built so many friendships, including my best friend (now boyfriend) of seven years.
Rotaract has opened up many doors in my life. Before I joined, I was very shy and speaking to strangers was always a challenge for me. But during my years in Rotaract, I had many opportunities to talk with Rotarians at conferences, speak with top-level management about sponsoring club projects, and recently delivered a speech at our installation dinner.
I am blessed to have a group of extremely nice Rotarians and Rotaractors who guide me, teach me how to lead, deal with conflicts, and serve my community. What I learn from them, I apply in my daily life. The experience led me to become a dual member of both Rotaract and Rotary, where I am seeking even greater opportunities in networking and international exposure in the Rotary Family.
Finding a purpose in life
Many young leaders are seeking to find their passion and define their purpose in life. To me, Rotary’s young leader programs recognize the importance of empowering young people through professional development opportunities in Rotaract, Interact, Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA), and Rotary Youth Exchange. These programs are a platform in my local community for developing skills and giving back to our community. Young leaders who unite together can do great and impactful projects. Together we can inspire others to take action.
I have a vision for seeing more young leaders helping peers develop their skills. In Malaysia, we are currently facing a shortage of skills in the workforce. I hope through Rotary and Rotaract we can enable youth to develop these skills through mentorship. Toward this goal, I aim to run a professional development workshop this year as the incoming President of my Rotaract Club.
On a smaller scale, in my daily life, I’m on a mission to “Pay It Forward” and practice random acts of kindness. Even one small action could brighten many lives. Just a week ago, I used my credit card to buy a drink for a security guard on duty outside a building. His smile was priceless. You see, it doesn’t take a lot to make someone’s day a little bit better.
In Rotaract, we practice “fellowship through service.” I’ve gained so many friendships both locally and international while doing good in my community. If you’d like the same, get in touch with a Rotaract Club near you!