Returning home again: How Rotary Youth Exchange builds resilience

Julia and host father

Julia Chalifoux (right), a member of her host family (center), and a fellow Rotary Youth Exchange student at the Big Buddha statue in Kamakura, Japan, in 1997.

By Julia Chalifoux, former Rotary Youth Exchange student to Japan

In 1997, at 17 years old, I spent a year living and learning in Tokyo, Japan, as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student.

Thanks to Rotary International, my time in Japan afforded me the opportunity to open my heart, mind, and eyes to a new language, land, and culture; all of this has had a profound and subtle impact and influence on the woman I am today.

In the months leading up to my exchange, I prepared myself for a year abroad, but what I wasn’t prepared for was the post-exchange experience – how returning ‘home’ again to my country of origin would also have an impact. Continue reading

Lights, camera, Rotaract!

The Beaches Rotaract Club

The Rotaract Club of Jacksonville’s Beaches, Florida, USA

By Charlie Flynn

When I first walked into a meeting of the Rotaract Club of Jacksonville’s Beaches, I couldn’t have possibly known all the unique and rewarding experiences my involvement would afford me. I had no idea what was in store; the connections I would make, the communities I would serve, and the knowledge I would amass.

At the time, the club consisted of less than 10 people. I admired each and every person in the small group and wanted to get involved. They taught me that groups of all shapes and sizes can make a difference in their local and international community. Since then, the club has seen significant growth and now has a membership of over 80. Continue reading

Gosha-e-Ilm: A Ray of Hope

Faisalabad Rotaract club members lead an evening class for child laborers.

By Ebadat-ur-Rehman Babar, 2019-20 secretary, Rotaract Club of Faisalabad, Pakistan

Our idea started back in 2018, when I and two other members of my Rotaract club began looking for an innovative, sustainable project. We wanted to submit an entry for the Rotaract Outstanding Project Awards and we came up with an idea of starting a school for child laborers who do not have enough resources for their education. Continue reading

Paying it forward through Rotaract

Georgi Kardzhaliyski at the Coney Island half marathon.

By Georgi Kardzhaliyski, a member of the Rotaract Club of Boston, Massachusetts, USA

My love affair with Rotary started when I was a junior in high school and was selected by the Bulgarian-American Fulbright Commission for their United States Achievers Program. One of the participants told me about Interact during the break of an SAT prep course and sparked my interest in getting involved. Feeling inspired, I went on to start my high school’s first ever Interact club, which I ran successfully with my co-president and about 10 members for a year until I graduated. Continue reading

What’s all the buzz about bees?

German Rotaractors build hotels for wild bees as part of the BeeAlive project.

By Henrik Thiele, a member of the Rotaract Club of Paderborn, Germany, and president of the Rotaract Germany Committee 

Recently, Rotaract clubs throughout Germany were looking for a signature project and decided to concentrate on the environment. After watching a Swiss documentary on bees, “More than honey,” one Rotaractor became passionate about focusing our attention on protecting these little superheroes. Did you know, for instance, that wild bees are responsible for pollinating more than 80 percent of our crops and wild plants? We can’t survive without them. Continue reading

Rotaractors mark a milestone at International Assembly

Mark Daniel Maloney and his wife, Gay, center, with Rotaractors at the 2019 International Assembly.

By María Sol Casas, Rotaract Club Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina

For a week in January, 60 Rotaractors from all over the world actively participated in the International Assembly, Rotary’s annual training event for incoming leaders, and it was, without any doubt, a life-changing experience for me. I sincerely believe that week marked a milestone. Continue reading

New Voices club charts its own course

RI Director Jeffry Cadorette, left, with members of the Rotary Club of New Voices.

By Marty Peak Helman, growth chair for District 7780 (parts of Maine and New Hampshire, USA )

A new Rotary club, New Voices, was chartered 15 June in my district with 33 new members. What makes this club unique is that the newly-minted Rotarians – who range in age from 18 to 30 – are all graduates of the district’s phenomenal Rotary Youth Leadership Awards program. Continue reading

Thank you for a wonderful year, Rotaractors

RI President Barry Rassin, middle, with Rotaractors in Mozambique.

By Barry Rassin, 2018-19 RI president

Time has really flown by. As the Rotary year draws to a close, I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on all that we’ve accomplished together.

When I started my year as president of Rotary, I set a number of goals that I hoped Rotary clubs all over the world would strive to achieve. One significant goal was important, but simple: double Rotaract. Continue reading

RYLA breaks down walls

Mike Norkin leads District 5330’s RYLA as camp director.

By Mike Norkin, RYLA camp director for District 5330 (California, USA)

I attended my first Rotary club meeting as a 24-year-old guest of a member, and sat in complete awe. Students and members who had attended the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards program the weekend before were sharing their stories. I will never forget the feeling I had as I listened to the accounts of how lives were being changed. I knew, at that moment, that I would be a lifelong Rotarian if I was able to participate in this program.

Continue reading

Rotary Youth Exchange expanded my view of the world

The author, third from left, on her Rotary Youth Exchange in Thunder Bay, Canada.

By Xolisile Sithole, former Rotary Youth Exchange student to Canada

It has been more than eight years since I embarked on a Rotary Youth Exchange to Thunder Bay, Canada, from South Africa. In many ways, it still seems like yesterday. It was an incredibly big year for me, having finished high school and qualified for university, and It remains one of my most treasured memories. Continue reading