RYLA North America 2016
Thanks to the generous support of the Manhattan Rotary Club and Kansas State University, the Kansas State Rotaract Club was able to send 7 delegates to the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) North America conference in Washington D.C. from July 19th- 24th. There, they were able to connect with and learn from hundreds of Rotarians and Rotaractors from over 40 different countries. Shown below are their reflections on the experience.
RYLA was such a positive and enriching experience for me. In just one week I was able to make connections with other rotaractors all over the world, proving that Rotary and Rotaract is a global family of people who truly want to make a difference in the world. During this week I was able to further develop my leadership skills through group workshops, as well as practice my Spanish skills with rotaractors from Latin America and the Caribbean. I also realized how important every person and voice is in moving forward and accomplishing a goal. After experiencing RYLA, I will take back with me a newfound confidence and drive to further develop myself and my club, with the help of the many clubs I was able to connect with.
Going to RYLA was a great experience as a new Rotaractor. For five days, we got to meet and interact with Rotaractors and Rotarians from diverse backgrounds and cultures. We exchanged ideas and tips that will improve our clubs and our individual communities. RYLA was a great experience that helped me grow not just as a Rotaractor but as an individual as well. We attended workshops that provided a better understanding on how to fund raise money and retain members. We were put in groups that consisted of very different people that ensured diverse brainstorming.
RYLA was poetically educational. The vast variety of workshops, leadership training and club empowerment. Rotaractors from all over the world working on making this world a better and more peaceful place. We were given the opportunity to connect ideas, intellect, and exchange methods and projects to improve our communities. We are bringing all of that to our club at Kansas State University. A stronger board connected with international fellows and an understanding of the challenges that we face. We will continue to direct our energies towards our projects, aiming to serve our community for the best.
Where do I begin? RYLA North America was an eye opening experience. When I talk to people about Rotaract and Rotary, as I often do, I always tell them that we are “an international service organization.” However, it was not until I had spent a week with some of the most caring and ambitious people, that I had really gained an understanding of the international, multi-ethnic, diverse community that Rotary is. From the beginning of the conference, and even before the committee began taking registrations, I was being introduced to people from places I had only dreamt of. After meeting hundreds of delegates from over 40 countries, I realized:
1) We are all far more similar than we are different
2) We all speak the same language of service over self
3) Everyone is a picture person when there is a selfie stick involved
I am entering my senior year at K-State with a renewed sense of service. We can change the status quo, and we have a team of friends in every corner of the globe to help us. I am so grateful to our friends at the Manhattan Rotary Club and the Kansas State University SGA to have been given this opportunity.
To my RYLA friends, may our paths cross again. Until then, show me that we have not lived in vain.
Go forth, my friends
Going to RYLA NA was a great way to connect with other Rotoracters around the world and learn from them, their culture, and their clubs. The connections I made have really opened up so many doors and opportunities to work together with other Rotaract Clubs around the world. I learned and gained more leadership and professional skills through different workshops and team building activities. Not only did I learn a great amount of things, but I got to make incredible friendships from all over the world and have a great time in Washington D.C.
When the week began, I had no idea what the Rotoract Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) would bring. I would have never imagined that I would gain such valuable leadership and communication skills along with friendships with people from all over the world. We began the week at the French Embassy where we met many people we would be working with throughout the week. The week of RYLA was a whirlwind week of activities, lectures, and cultures. There were conferences over things like conflict management and communication. Fellow Rotaractors and Rotarians gave workshops to help delegates improve their Rotaract clubs, so they could learn about new ways to increase membership, improve fundraising, build community partnerships, and more. At the beginning of the conference we were split into groups and created plans for Rotary’s next global campaign. We worked throughout the week and presented on the last day. This was a great way for us to connect with Rotary and begin to tackle some of the real world problems of today. I will take back many lessons from RYLA, but I feel the most important thing I learned was the importance of clear and open communication and how communication is given and received even when people are not speaking. I look forward to sharing the things I learned at RYLA with my fellow Rotaract officers at K-State and using them to improve our local and global community.
This year I had the opportunity to attend the North American RYLA Conference in Washington D.C. for a second time. Earlier in the year, co-presidents Alex and I discussed the coming conference, and we believed that sending several of our more experienced officers would serve as a great opportunity for our officer board to be better prepared to serve our club this academic year. This year, with gracious support from the KSU SGA and the Manhattan Rotary Club, we were able to send six incoming club officers.
In addition to the great activities, plenary sessions, and projects that we worked on, many of the past week's activities were done as part of a randomly assigned group of about ten delegates, led by one of twenty group leaders. This year, I had the honor of serving as the group leader for Manhattan, group names representing the city the leader is representing. As a group leaders, we were responsible for guiding our group through the conference, leading activities, and facilitating growth.
In addition to all of the great information presented at the conference, this experience allowed our officer board to bond, and form strong personal relationships that will allow for a greater experience for all over the coming year.