Rotary changed the way I see the world

Christian Miguel da Silva and other Youth Exchange students at a Rotary conference in Mexicali in 2004-05

Christian Miguel da Silva

By Christian Miguel da Silva, alumnus of Interact and Rotaract clubs, Rotary Youth Exchange program, and the New Generations Service Exchange program.

Watching the news today can create a lot of anxiety. Have you noticed how upside down the world can seem at times? But whenever I find myself feeling the darkness of the world we live in, I remember the positive experiences I have had in Rotary programs, and how they have made me an optimist.

I’m 30-years-old, and my first experience in Rotary was at 13. Invited by friends, I went to my first Interact Club meeting, and didn’t want to leave. Continue reading

Introducing young leaders to human rights

Cassady Shaw and Tamara Larson

Cassady Shaw, left, and Tamara Larson at the Nelson Mandela Exhibit in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

By Tamara C Larson, Youth Services Chair for District 5370 (West and Northwest Canada) 

For the past two years, I have had the privilege of being a chaperone and working with many young leaders as they attend the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg as part of our district’s program to introduce young people to human rights.  As youth service chair, I find working with these young leaders to be very inspiring. They have a strong investment in social justice, in creating positive change, and are willing to tackle tough issues without compromise. Continue reading

Young people can make their mark through Rotary

By John Hewko, Rotary International General Secretary

The desire to give back, become involved in your community, create connections, and use one’s skills to benefit others is a cornerstone of civil society. But how can young people find these opportunities while facing the challenges of a widening skills gap, lost personal connections through digital isolation, and an uncertain future?

Let me begin with a description of a young person who may sound familiar. Continue reading

Blueprint for welcoming Rotaractors into the family

John Marvin Leonor has fun in a foam pit during a fellowship event including the Rotaract clubs of New Rise Kalookan North and Zamboanga City West at the ABS-CBN Studio Experience in September.

By John Marvin Leonor, Rotaract Club of New Rise Kalookan North, Philippines

The first word that comes to mind when I think about our sponsor Rotary club is family. It is our greatest honor to serve our community alongside the Rotary Club of Kalookan North. Whenever anyone asks me what our greatest strength is as a Rotaract club, I can proudly say it is the active and strong partnership with our Rotary club.

The importance of this partnership cannot be underestimated. Rotary clubs have the ability to make Rotaractors feel they belong to this huge family of Rotary and are an integral part of it. I feel fortunate our Rotary club has made it such a priority, and hope by sharing this it will inspire other clubs to do the same. Continue reading

Rotary-supported story contest gives Tacoma youth a voice

The first-ever Tacoma Ocean Fest Youth Story Contest invited youth to write about the ocean and what it means to them.

By Rosemary Ponnekanti

At first, Hope was reluctant. She was on the verge of flunking school through poor attendance. But when Kathleen Figetakis, literacy chair at Tacoma Sunrise Rotary, Washington, USA, asked the Tacoma senior for one little favor – to put up posters in her school for the Tacoma Ocean Fest Youth Story Contest – Hope agreed. Six months later, she had not only won second prize in the contest, but she also graduated from high school – and helped the inaugural contest to be a wave of success. Continue reading

What Fairwold is saying about Interact

Fairwold Interact members and advisors.

By Steve Bass, Fairwold Interact Club advisor

Fairwold Academy serves children that need emotional support from throughout the area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. The opportunities we are able to provide these students are amazing. Our members have designed and sold tree certificates to raise money to purchase and plant thousands of trees in our local nature preserves. Our original recycling project, Plastic Planet Savers, won a sustainability award at Temple University’s EarthFest celebration a few years ago. And  the club has earned the Presidential Citation from Rotary International each of the past three years. 

But better than all of that is what they say about how Interact is shaping their lives. Here is just a sampling: Continue reading

The best way to find yourself

Younis Sebaggala takes part in a service project.

Younis Sebaggala takes part in a service project.

By Younis Sebaggala, professional leadership and development chair and president-elect of the Rotaract Club of Kampala North, Uganda

Common wisdom tells us that when you help someone else, you help yourself. But what does that mean? What does it mean to find yourself, or for that matter lose yourself? In the busy world we live in, we are becoming more and more isolated from our friends, neighbors, and family.

I believe that by using our time and talents to help people, we can reverse that trend. I believe that there is value in being connected to other people, and the volunteers I meet professionally and every day through my Rotaract club continuously strengthen this belief. Continue reading

Learning a common language of respect

Youth exchange and deaf students

Rotary Youth Exchange students share stories and ideas with students from a high school for the deaf.

By Daladiana Cunha Lima, co-chair of the Youth Exchange committee for District 4500 (Brazil)

Rotary Youth Exchange is my favorite Rotary program. From my experience, I found the challenges of Youth Exchange are fairly universal. Among these, I believe one of the most important is connecting the students’ exchange year with Rotary’s mission of providing service. Continue reading

Are you an inspiration, and more?

Immy Julie Nakyeyune Musoke

Immy Julie Nakyeyune Musoke

By Immy Julie Musoke Nakyeyune, Rotaract Club of Kampala South, Uganda

Last January, Rotary International President Barry Rassin’s presidential theme for 2018-19, Be the Inspiration, asked us to inspire change in the world and in each other. I believe that each of us is an inspiration because we accepted to join Rotaract, we joined to put Service Above Self. However, I keep asking myself, do we inspire other people to join Rotaract? Inspiration is evoked spontaneously without intention; through the stories we share, the pictures we post, and the books we read, to mention just a few ways. Continue reading

Mt. Pleasant to Munich: a Rotary Youth Exchange journey

Eva and Tara

Eva (Breuer) Stahl and Tara Nicoll in the Mecuris showroom with 3D-printed pediatric feet.

By Tara Nicoll

Mt. Pleasant, Pa., USA

Had it not been for my Rotary Youth Exchange to Munich, Germany, in 1994-95, I am positive that I would not be where I am now: Living and pursuing a career in global business development at an innovative German medtech startup. I work with another former Rotary Youth Exchange student, Eva, who happens to be my best friend from my exchange year.

The later challenges of working life in Japan and Argentina would have been impossible without the experience of being thrown into strange daily life situations with just a dictionary and persistence. Continue reading