Inspiring us to make the world a better place
The Rotary Youth Leadership Awards is an intensive experience organised by Rotary Clubs and Districts, where young people can develop leadership skills while having fun and making connections.
This District 7230 RYLA enables Rotary Clubs to sponsor 10th-grade students with leadership potential to a three-day weekend in Alpine, New Jersey.
After being one of the of seven Rotary Interact Members chosen along with three advisers to represent Bermuda, we checked in at the Alpine Scout Camp, with a strong sense of anticipation for what the RYLA experience would be like.
As we embarked on this dynamic and inspiring weekend, we were enthusiastically welcomed into the conference room.
Icebreakers began until all of the Rotary Youth and advisers arrived at the lodge. The compact weekend enabled all of us to quickly develop friendships.
During the weekend, we were enlightened by various informative and interactive speakers that discussed vital leadership skills, critical thinking, and even mental health. One of the most inspiring activities for me was the culture walk on the first day.
All of the campers were told to quietly stand on one side of the room and to walk over the line if the statement resonated with personal experiences. It began with chattering and laughing but quickly became emotional and comforting for many.
Many teens began to discuss issues such as mental health, suicide, depression, bullying, sexual assault, societal expectations, and poverty.
In a strange way, I felt so connected and empowered by all the experiences shared.
We were split into our family groups, consisting of eight people per group and reflected after our activities and speakers.
Fun evenings heightened the weekend, like the toilet paper fashion show, which I won!
We enjoyed rock climbing, bonfires, karaoke, and various other team-building games.
We had the opportunity to network with Rotarians across New York, including Kris Chittur, the district 7230 governor and developed friendships that will last a lifetime. I can proudly say that my weekend at RYLA has been so inspiring. It taught me to value differences and those around you.
The weekend gave me leadership skills I'm happy to harness here in Bermuda.
The experience taught me to use the Rotary 4-way test in everything I do. Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
Most importantly, RYLA has created a platform for all of the attendees to be fearless in our pursuit of making this world a better place.
For more information about how to get involved with Rotary Bermuda, visit rotary7230.org