“Rotary believes in developing the next generation of leaders. Our programs help younger leaders build leadership skills, expand education and learn the value of service”. This quote is directly from our Rotary website and describes why we feel so strongly about developing the youth of our world. We utilize Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA), Rotary Youth Exchange, New Generations Service Exchange, Rotaract and Interact to facilitate and achieve the objectives of our Youth Services within Rotary. A quick overview of each program is as follows:

• RYLA is generally a 1 day to 1 week event to allow students to connect with community leaders and develop skills to build communication and problem solving skills, discover strategies to become leaders within their schools and communities, learn from community leaders and mentors, turn motivation into action and have fun and form lasting friendships. The RYLA camp that we have with District 5630 is an example of a RYLA activity.

• Rotary Youth Exchanges are a 3 month to year-long cultural exchange in another country to develop relationships and learn about other cultures and countries. Students will learn new languages, develop leadership skills, make lifelong friendships and become a global citizen through this program. They will live with local host families during the program.

• New Generations Service Exchanges are programs in another country that are developed around a person’s professional goals with a humanitarian project. This program is designed for university students and young adults up to age 30 and has similar goals as the Youth Exchange but is geared to young adults with a professional component included. They will last a few weeks up to 6 months.

• Rotaract is very similar to our Rotary Club but is targeted at 18 – 30 year old age groups. They organize and run their clubs, manage their own funds, and plan and carry out activities and service projects for their community. They are sponsored by a local Rotary Club. The Rotary Club will partner on service projects, support and offer guidance to the Rotaract club. We previously have sponsored a Rotaract Club on the campus of SDSU.

• Interact is very similar to Rotaract but designed for a younger age group of students in the 12 – 18 year range. In addition to service to their community, they also work on leadership skills within their school and community, gain a cultural understanding of the world, have fun and make new friends. The local Rotary Club will mentor and partner with an Interact club much like with Rotaract.

To say that the youth of the world are our future is a huge understatement, but they are certainly the future of Rotary and the projects that we support and advocate for both locally and around the globe. It is our responsibility to encourage the youth to become involved and to make a difference in what they do in order to make the world a better place for all of us.

Yours in Rotary,

Steve

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