Rotary Clubs Sponsor Exchange Students
Very few clubs can claim to span the entire planet Earth, with members from Iceland to Antarctica. Few non-governmental organizations can hold a seat in the United Nations, too. So which club does? Which club is commonly recognized as having the impact and value of an entire nation while spanning nearly all?
Rotary International (RI) is the world’s first service club organization, with more than 1.2 million members in 33,000 clubs worldwide. Rotary members are “volunteers and humanitarians who work locally, regionally, and internationally to combat hunger, improve health and sanitation, provide education and job training, and promote peace,” according to RI President John Kenny. Some of their main focuses include eradicating the Polio virus, promoting literacy, and engaging youth through exchange programs and educational opportunities. Sounds awesome! Want to join?
As students, we’re actually too young to be Rotarians. However, for us, Rotary offers something even better.
RI funds Rotaract clubs. Rotaract has the same values and goals as Rotary but is meant for students and young professionals between the ages of 18 and 30. It also partners with Interact clubs, Rotary for high school students, and RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Award) programs. Rotaract, Interact and RYLA are all fantastic ways to get involved in your community and your world. If you haven’t looked into these clubs yet, now is the time.
Until this year, RI had four official avenues of service: club, vocational, community, and international. This year, for the first time in a century, Rotary announced a fifth avenue of service: “New Generations”. Rotarians are sponsoring youth on more frequent, new exchange trips, and focusing their community efforts toward our futures and well-being. They’re all about us now, so let’s take full advantage and give back as much as we can.
Last summer, Rotary hosted their 101st Annual International Convention Meeting in Montreal, Quebec, and I am one of over 20,000 members who attended. They had meetings, workshops, guest speakers, social events, and special performances for all the Rotarians and Rotaractors. We were given speeches on global awareness by Queen Noor of Jordan, current Nobel Peace Prize nominee Greg Mortenson, country music star Dolly Parton, and more. We were also part of a mass volunteer effort that cleaned up some of Montreal’s most beautiful agricultural areas and donated both time and pocket-change to support many charitable initiatives.
The convention provided great opportunities both professionally and personally. Professionally, Rotary is a great way to build networks of contacts and build leadership skills that can help you reach your school and work-related goals. On a personal level, you can enjoy friendships with hundreds of people from around the world.
Kelly Mills, a neuroscience major from Alberta’s Lethbridge University, said that Rotary was a great way to bring people together. “It’s a connection,” she explained, “you can go up to anyone and everyone. Just smile and you’re friends.”
If you want to get involved by finding a Rotaract or Interact club in your community, visit Rotaract.
Contact your local Rotary club if you are interested in starting your own, and helping your city or high school add to the worldwide service network that is Rotary International.