By Anna Tumanova, president, Rotary Club of Moscow Center, Russian Federation
I remember how impatiently I waited for my Varvara to run. I waited for my daughter’s first step for 10 months. But there are parents who wait for years. And there are those who will never experience this happiness.
What is it like for a young person who can’t lean on his own feet? How do they see the world? What is their social circle? Are they confined to the four walls of a small apartment, where they are heroically dragged along by their mother, whose life begins and ends with a child with special needs.
By Shannon Coleman, governor of District 5870 Central Texas, USA
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the United Nations estimates that more than 14 million people are thought to have fled their homes. We began hearing about some of these families through our Ukrainian community here is Central and South-Central Texas. Children are entering our school systems with only the clothes on their backs. Many of the families have experienced violence, war, a shortage of food, water or shelter, personal injury, and disease.
Wanting to help, Rotarians in our district applied for a Disaster Response Grant from The Rotary Foundation to work with Peaceable Kingdom by Variety, a children’s retreat/camp in Killeen, for a three-night, four-day recreational experience over the Labor Day weekend. We imagined a space where the Ukrainian families could connect with their community, step away from the reminders of war, and take a much-needed deep breath. We wanted to give the children a place to explore, laugh and just be kids.
By Logan Johnson, Youth Exchange and Youth Protection Promotions and Engagement Specialist at Rotary International
A few years ago, volunteers of the Rotary Youth Exchange program were sending thousands of students around the globe each year to learn new languages, discover new cultures, and become global citizens. Then COVID-19 brought almost every aspect of the program to a screeching halt. Like many other aspects of Rotary, the program found new life online with virtual exchanges, which offered a safe alternative to in-person exchanges.
But many anticipated the return of in-person exchanges, and as of May 2022 in-person exchanges were planned and are happening worldwide for the first time in over two years!
I first met Brett at the Rotary International Conference in Atlanta back in 2017 when he was strolling through the House of Friendship with a surfboard under his arm. Brett, a native San Diegan and Past President of the Rotary Club of La Jolla Golden Triangle, recalls that the moment we met “I knew we’d become friends and that we needed her on board.”
By Anniela Carracedo, member of the Rotary Club of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, USA, and a Rotary Youth Exchange Alumna
When I decided to become a Rotary Youth Exchange student, I had no idea how much it would change my life and the lives of everyone around me.
In 2017, I was invited to the Interact Club of Valencia, Venezuela, following my parents, who joined the Rotary Club of Valencia. I joined the club because I wanted to make a difference in my local community. I had seen Venezuela go from being one of the healthiest countries in Latin America to experiencing one of the worst humanitarian and economic crises in the modern world.