It is always exciting to go back to your roots and as the 256,000-odd Rotaractors across the world celebrate their 50th birthday, did you know that the first-ever Rotaract club was set up 50 years ago in Charlotte, North Carolina, United States? And as greening the planet becomes a serious concern of Rotary International, that the first Rotaract project was to plant a tree? Rotaract originally began as a Rotary International youth programme in 1968 at the Charlotte North Rotary Club in Charlotte, RI District 7680, US. Over 50 years it has now blossomed into a powerful organisation with 11,153 Rotaract clubs and over 256,000 Rotaractors. Recently the founding club of Rotaract — RC Charlotte North — decided to host a grand 50th birthday bash for Rotaractors, and the chief guest was none less than RI President Barry Rassin. The new RI President’s constant advice to Rotarians has been to pay more attention to Rotaractors, mentor them, be more inclusive, and above all, concentrate on converting them into Rotarians. Rassin has made it clear that a focus area during his year as President will be much deeper engagement with Rotaractors. He has described how in his own home club, Rotary Club of East Nassau, Bahamas, Rotaractors attend club meetings, not as guests, but sign in just as members do.
There were many fun events at the birthday bash which included a picnic on the lush green lawns at a scenic spot, painting “caring canvases” depicting a forest filled with trees for kids in a local hospital who couldn’t receive colourful gifts such as balloons, flowers, etc due to medical restrictions. But what did not escape the attention of the assembled Rotaractors, and Rotarians as well, was that President Rassin spent a lot of time at this event, addressing them, answering their questions and listening to the Rotaractors, who were energetic, brimming with new ideas and shared their concerns with Rassin.
District Governor Scott Van der Linden, who gave me highlights of the Charlotte event reported in this issue, later told Rotaract News that “though the first Rotaract club was chartered in Charlotte 50 years ago, we have not been as active with our Rotaract clubs as you have been in India. I know this because the current President of the Rotaract Club of UNC Charlotte was in a big Rotaract club in India, and speaks highly of the Rotaract culture in your country.”
If the current governor of a district where Rotaract was born, all the way across in the US, is taking note of your energy, enthusiasm and achievements, which include the meaningful projects you do in the communities you live in, you are surely on the right path. By your serious involvement in lessening the pain and suffering of the less advantaged in your communities, and giving them a ray of hope, you are sending out a strong signal that not all youngsters are self-centred and have time to think only about themselves — their own education, careers, entertainment, holidays — but are ready to utilise their time and energy, and even money, to help others. Surely, India has reason to be proud of you. Now the challenge before you is to motive more Indian youth to emulate you.