Rotary made me feel right at home in Scotland

Ally Vincent, center, with her Scottish hosts.

Ally Vincent, center, with her Scottish hosts.

By Ally Vincent

Although I am just 23, I already have nine years’ experience with Rotary. I joined the Interact Club at Crystal River High School in Florida when I was 14. When I began pursuing an undergraduate degree at Saint Leo University, I felt a bit lost, and I missed the connection I had to Rotary. So I became involved in chartering a Rotaract Club on campus, eventually becoming club president in 2013-14. I saw Rotary’s good work both on a local and international scale through projects we worked on with the Rotary Club of Belize Sunrise, in Belize, and the Rotaract Club of Islamabad Green City, in Punjab, Pakistan. Continue reading

Delivering indestructible soccer balls to children in Vietnam

Members of Interact deliver the durable soccer balls in Vietnam.

Members of Interact deliver the durable soccer balls in Vietnam.

By Sallyann Price, Rotary staff

At the Rotary International Convention in São Paulo this summer, a group of American high school students kicked a funny-looking soccer ball around the House of Friendship. The Interact club members from high schools in the Bay Area of California, USA, were raising money to send a volunteer team to Vietnam to give away 2,400 of these balls.

On assignment for The Rotarian, I traveled to Vietnam in July with a team of Interactors and Rotary members. The balls, produced by One World Play Project, a nonprofit Continue reading

Looking (way) back at a big adventure

Katherine Ward (middle) and her daughter (behind, left) in Turkey.

Katherine Ward (middle) and her daughter (behind, left) in Turkey.

By Katherine Ward

Thirty years ago, at the age of 18, I started a grand adventure and boarded a plane on my own toward Istanbul, Turkey. I was headed off on a yearlong Rotary Youth Exchange.

Before I left, I attended several camps that prepared us for culture shock and gave us a general sense of some of the changes we could expect. My high school wouldn’t accept any credits from Turkey, so I had accelerated my course schedule, completing all but one required course to graduate.

I spoke absolutely no Turkish but, despite my struggles with language learning at the Continue reading

Breaking stereotypes in the Neelum Valley, Pakistan

Students in Pakistan’s Neelum Valley display the backpacks they received from members of the Rotaract Club of Jhang Saddar.

Students in Pakistan’s Neelum Valley display the backpacks they received from members of the Rotaract Club of Jhang Saddar.

By Talha Mushtaq

Many nonprofits are working hard to increase social welfare programs. Being unified in their approach, some may focus on one issue, such as improving the literacy rate, while others concentrate on employment. Our Rotaract Club of Jhang Saddar has made a name for itself in our community by being multifaceted.

One of over 8,000 Rotaract clubs around the world supported by Rotary, we are committed to not only supporting education but to other efforts, including the fight to
eradicate polio. These efforts have Continue reading

Summit in California unites young professionals

Participants in the young professional summit held in Berkeley, California, USA.

Participants in the young professional summit held in Berkeley, California, USA.

By Katie Coard

This summer in Berkeley, California, I joined a group of Rotary young professionals and district leaders from the western United States and Canada at a summit to discuss the future of Rotary. Reflecting one of Rotary’s strengths, this event brought together many diverse perspectives to focus on what younger Rotarians are looking for in Rotary.

I’ve been a part of the Rotary family since joining Rotaract in 2010, and it has changed my life in many ways. I am a founder and co-president of a provisional Rotary club in my hometown of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Rotary taught me how to lead, engage, and manage groups of people, projects, and events. These are skills I use in my daily work. Continue reading

Little Rotary moments that transformed my life

Heidi Resetaritis at a 5K walk/run to promote health and fitness and raise money for PolioPlus.

Heidi Resetarits at a 5K walk/run that raised money for PolioPlus.

By Heidi Resetarits

Little moments of connectivity in life — who you talk to, who you share with — can completely change your trajectory. A few years ago at a holiday work party, I met my friend and future mentor, Ann Tull. The party was dull, but our conversation sparked a little light in me that transformed my life.

Ann introduced me to Rotary, and eventually encouraged me to apply for an Ambassadorial Scholarship. I realized that working toward higher education and a future that revolved around Service Above Self was what I was looking for. A year later and I was on my way to the United Nations University for Peace in Ciudad Colon, Costa Rica, as an Ambassadorial Scholar from Rotary District 5450. Continue reading

Building connections with young professionals

Bobby Keith, a member of the Rotary Club of Birmingham, Alabama, chats with David Knight, a member of the Rotaract Club of Birmingham, during a recent meeting.

Bobby Keith, a member of the Rotary Club of Birmingham, Alabama, chats with Rotaractor David Knight during a recent meeting.

By Jeris Gaston, Rotaract Club of Birmingham, Alabama, USA

At the recent Rotary International Convention in São Paulo, Brazil, there were several breakout sessions geared toward the next generation of Rotarians. The one that stood out the most for me was “thirtysomething: How Clubs/Districts Can Provide Rotary Experiences for Young Professionals,” moderated by John Smola, a past president of my club, and Christa Papavasiliou, of the Rotaract Club of Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Continue reading

Building community and developing leaders at a unique changeover event

Rotary Youth Leadership Awards participants take part in an outdoor challenge course designed to teach leadership and problem-solving. Photo courtesy District 7780

Rotary Youth Leadership Awards participants take part in an outdoor challenge course designed to teach leadership and problem-solving. Photo courtesy District 7780

By Sheila Rollins, governor of District 7780, parts of Maine and New Hampshire, USA

Changeover ceremonies, in which Rotary leaders transition to their new positions, are often formal events. I knew I wanted our district’s ceremony to be different. I wanted an event that would positively reflect the ideals of Rotary, that would be family-oriented and cost-conscious, and that would not take place in a hotel ballroom. I considered combining the district changeover with a service project, but I decided to create something even more unique: I planned the changeover to coincide with our annual Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA). Continue reading

The Rotary Youth Exchange I dreamed about

Thando Gwatyu shares the South African flag with his host family in Germany.

Thando Gwatyu shares the South African flag with his host family in Germany.

By Thando Gwatyu, a Rotary Youth Exchange student from South Africa to Germany

Recently, I finished my third month in Germany, and it’s already changing my life. The process has not always been easy, but I’ve made quite a few discoveries about German culture and tradition, some of which is very different from the life I’m used to.

My first host family, the Roos, were simply amazing. Both parents are architects and they have a 16-year-old daughter and an 18-year-old son. The parents were eager to show me many things about their country Continue reading

Rotary exchange inspires children’s books about animals

Rachel Shaw with Rotary members at the launch of her book in Manila.

Rachel Shaw (middle, first row) with Rotary members at a book launch in Manila.

By Rachel Shaw, honorary member of the Rotary Club of West Bay, Laguna, Philippines.

Six years ago, I visited the Philippines as part of a Group Study Exchange team from Rotary District 1270 (Lincolnshire, England).The opportunity to visit one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots as a professional wildlife conservationist became for me the start of a new writing and illustrating adventure.

Glimpsing just a little of the amazing diversity of animals sparked my imagination. Continue reading