I have to mention that the majority of all the amazing learning experiences I have had have been provided to me by Rotary. While in highschool I learned about Rotary Youth Exchange, and having wanted to study abroad my whole life but never having the money or the time to do it, I was finally able to. RYE is a program that is for high school aged students who are willing to live in a foreign country for a year. You are able to pick a region and influence the decision of the country but ultimately it is the Rotarian choose. I like this be cause it allows for a certain type of student to become a part of the program. I really learned from meeting other people on RYE that we are really a group of people that are always flexible, open, eager to learn, fun and ready to push the limits. Its definitely worth it and is an amazing learning experience. By doing the program at such a young age your perspective on people and relations and really yourself are altered in such a positive way.
After I graduated high school I was off to Argentina. I had never considered not going straight to college, but it worked out for the best that I would do a gap year. Spend the time in Argentina learning the language the culture and everything I could, re doing my senior year of highschool down there. My sponsor club from California was Carmel Valley Rotary in District 5230 ( they are the best club ever!) and most host club was Club Rotario de Mar De Ajo’ in District 4290. I lived in San Bernardo Argentina, right on the coast about 3-4 hours south of Buenos Aires. I can go on for longer than you would want about that experience. Its not easy and not always fun and games, but it is so rewarding, I really wish everyone could have the chance to take part in the program (they do have the chance they just dont always know about it! )
My next encounter with Rotary was again with my awesome club from Carmel Valley. I have been attending the School of International Studies at the University of the Pacific, and became heavily involved with an organization called Ties to the World. This was an org that I heard about via the Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship we have at Pacific (which is also one of the most crucial providers to my education). Ties to the World is a newer org that works to create a model of sustainability for an Orphanage in Guatemala, Hogar San Francisco Xavier. While at the same time providing amazing leadership and learning opportunities to American college students. While working for the org I had visited Guatemala my first winter break at Pacific. That following summer I was to go down as a Student Leader with the same org bringing a larger group of students from my school as well as working with others from the Wharton School of Business at UPenn. Our groups were to go down and do feasibility studies for some of the business models that had been developed for the orphanage, as well as work to help out a little the children and those running the orphanage. Rotary provided me the travel and lodging costs necessary for me to go down and take part in this amazing trip.
The most recent opportunity that Rotary has provided me with and has led me to creating this blog to keep everyone informed, is the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship. I received the Cultural Ambassadorial Scholarship which is for 6 months of in country language study. They also have 3 month scholars and year long, the year long being direct enrollment into a university (meaning you already have to be fluent in the language) or research possibilities at a University. I went to Amman Jordan to study at the University of Jordan Language Center. The scholarship was amazing and provided me with definitely sufficient funds to take care of education, transportation and living costs while there. Not to mention the exciting people that you meet through the rotary network. The possibilities are endless and I write this so as to hopefully encourage others to apply.