Stephanie Witkowski, middle in blue shirt, during her Rotary Youth Exchange in Slovakia.
By Stephanie Witkowski, Rotary Club of Honolulu Pau Hana
At 28 years old, I decided to become a Rotarian, because Rotary changed my life.
I grew up in a small town in Oregon, USA, and was a young leader in my school. When I was 15 years old, I applied to attend a Rotary Youth Leadership Awards event in Rotary’s District 5110 to learn more about myself and what leadership meant to me. During that amazing week-long experience, I learned not only about how to be a better leader for my school and community, but about Rotary itself. Continue reading
Avenida del Libertador, Buenos Aires
By Christine Cloonan, former Rotary Scholar
I first heard about the Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship during a coffee meeting with a fellow member of a women’s business network now known as Ellevate Network. My life path prior to that had been clear, but not always direct.
My goal was to study to get the best education I could with the ultimate purpose of getting a “good job.” But to the bafflement of my older relatives, landing on that good job took a bit of exploring. My first job was with a law firm, which convinced me not to go to law school. Accepting a one year teaching fellowship, I began a five year teaching career and earned a Master of Spanish at Middlebury College. I then developed an “itch” to go abroad to perfect my language skills and explore new places. Continue reading
Rotary Youth Exchange students from 1991 reunite 25 years later.
By Emma Naas, a former Rotary Youth Exchange Student from Sweden
In the summer of 1991, 377 Rotary Youth Exchange students boarded eight buses and journeyed around the American continent for five weeks. Those weeks were for all of us unforgettable, and a fantastic end to our exchange year. The time we spent on those buses was so special, it created an unforgettable bond between us and a wonderful memory. We never thought we would ever meet again. But we were wrong. Continue reading
Alexandria Ritchie (seated under banner), with the Rotaract Club of John Tyler Community College.
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. Continue reading
The author, far right, and her daughter with a former Rotary Youth Exchange student from Chile.
By Linda Mulhern, a member of the Rotary Club of St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
When you become a Rotary Youth Exchange student, you never imagine how it might affect you in the long term. In my case, my exchange has connected my family in more ways than one.
As a Youth Exchange student to Sweden in 1979-80, I learned a lot about what I was capable of doing on my own, my strengths and weaknesses, and what it took to overcome obstacles. I had an incredible year in Sweden, and still speak Swedish fluently. I have contacts with many friends and communicate regularly with my host parents and host sisters. Continue reading
Participants in the summit draw their ideas on paper.
By Anabella Q. Bonfa, District 5320 membership chair
How do you breathe new life into your Rotary club? We held a young professional summit recently in southern California, USA, attended by 52 members of Rotary and Rotaract — some new and some with many years of experience — who came together for half a day to share their thoughts. Everyone had fun, and many creative ideas surfaced. Here are just a few:
Plan events that are family-friendly to engage members with young children. Continue reading
The leadership team of the Rotary Club of Metro Savannah with the author (seventh from left in white shirt).
By Gordon Matthews, past governor of District 6920 (Georgia, USA), Rotary Club of Savannah East
A panel of three young members spelled out for us the issues that block young people from joining Rotary during our spring assembly a few years ago — scheduling, cost of dues, and rules.
I’ve been active in developing leaders in our community and have worked with our Group Study Exchange teams in the past, so I know the energy and potential in this “under 40” generation that we need to tap for Rotary. But I’ve also seen several Rotary clubs try to do this with limited results, because they stayed too close to the traditional model and dues structure. Continue reading
Rotary Youth Exchange student Ronan Morgan holds up the South African flag.
By Ronan Morgan
I had just arrived in Denmark after a 13-hour flight from South Africa, tired, but not exhausted. I was excited and ready to face a year of surprises and challenges as a Rotary Youth Exchange student from District 9400. It was not until I moved into my new home where I would spend the first five months of my exchange that it fully hit me – I was not in Johannesburg anymore, or anywhere familiar. Continue reading
Rotaractor Fernanda Luz Moraes entertains a child during a club outing. Happiness, she says, is an essential part of Rotaract.
By Fernanda Luz Moraes, president of the Rotaract Club of Cachoeirinha, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
When I began participating in Rotaract in 2012, I viewed it as a way to spend my weekends doing something good in my community. But then I realized it is so much more than that.
I have met many other members of Rotaract who have a hard time explaining the passion that comes over them for doing volunteer work. The best way I can put it is this: We think globally, then act locally.
I want to change the world, and in order to make it happen, I know I need to develop my Continue reading
Kathleen Plaza’s own This Close portrait
By Kathleen Plaza, Rotary Scholar
I was born and raised in a rural barrio (neighborhood) in Mindanao, Philippines. I moved to Guam when I was about 18 years old. I became a member of the Rotaract Club of the Marianas in Guam when I was completing my undergrad degree in biology, and served as secretary in 2011-12 and as youth services director in 2012-13.
I moved to Hawaii in August 2015, and with a Rotary Scholarship funded by a global grant, began taking classes in public health, focused on disease prevention and treatment. I will finish my program in May 2017. Continue reading