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

Better together: the beauty of Rotaract twin clubs

Twin club service project

The Rotaract clubs of Chinatown-Manila, Philippines, and Taipei Tin Harbour, Taiwan, take part in a shared service project.

By Julie Chu, charter member of the Rotaract Club of Taipei Tin Harbour, Taiwan

We still joke about how the story of our two clubs is like a love story, with a happily-ever-after ending. The parents met and liked the idea for the children to meet, the children started dating, and the two families decided to join forces in doing good. 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

3 ways to make your club more inclusive

By Katey Halliday, Rotaract Club of Adelaide City and the Rotary Club of Adelaide Light, South Australia, Australia

Rotary recently adopted a diversity, equity, and inclusion statement that sends a strong message that we embrace inclusivity. Rotary has clubs all over the world and reaches a broad range of people with our service projects. So we are already diverse, but a second ingredient, inclusion, is the key to unlocking and maintaining the full benefits of that diversity. How inclusive is your club? 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

RYLA in Madagascar unites cultures

Soovan Sharma Dookho, lower left, with other participants in the RYLA sponsored by District 9220 in Madagascar.

By Soovan Sharma Dookhoo, president of the Rotaract Club of Riviere Du Rempart, Mauritius

Attending a Rotary Youth Leadership Awards event hosted by District 9220 in Madagascar has been one of my most cherished experiences both from a leadership and a cultural standpoint. I joined members of Rotaract from Mauritius, marching as one, as we eagerly boarded a flight to the longest island in the Indian Ocean. From my first day in Madagascar, I was surrounded by a completely different culture. It was a joy simply going through the streets, and taking in all of the scenery and action.

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

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

10 reasons to apply for a Rotary Peace Fellowship at ICU

Cherry blossoms line the main entrance to ICU in March.

By Lorraine Hayman, incoming Rotary Peace Fellow at International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan, 2019-21

This summer, I will join the 18th class of Rotary Peace Fellows at International Christian University. Here are my top ten reasons for applying to ICU: Continue reading