A Rotarian turns Rotaractor

It is rather unusual to find a Rotarian, that too a charter member of a proactive club in Udaipur, who has become a Rotaractor two years ago by choice. For, according to her, “I am enjoying my dual membership as it serves two purposes — first, it is simply great working with the youth in Rotaract to keep up with the current times and update myself. And at the same time, learn from the experience of seasoned Rotarians at RC Udaipur Yuva, RID 3056,” says Aishwarya Singh, president, RAC Aishwarya and also secretary of the parent Rotary.

RAC Aishwarya president Aishwarya Singh (left) during the Plastic-free Week at the college.

Now at the helm of the institution-based club at the Aishwarya College of Education Sansthan, Udaipur, “you can say, I am grooming all my 20 Rotaract members with right skillsets to become Rotarians in the near future,” she smiles. After it was formed in 2003, RAC Aishwarya found the going tough and the Covid pandemic proved to be the last straw. “However, the club was revived on June 29, 2022 with a new vigour and from then on, there is no looking back for us.” Project Antaryatra (self-journey), a year-long activity, will reach out to over 5,000 students at 25-plus government and private schools to create awareness on mental health issues.

Till now, interactive sessions were conducted by Aishwarya, an RLI trainer, and Sunita Kumari, a yoga instructor and naturopathy expert, at eight schools covering over 750 students. “We teach them the concept of mindfulness, meditation techniques, and various means to cope with stress and avoid depression,” says Aishwarya. Students were told to plug into Tele Manas App, a GoI’s initiative and co-designed by Nimhans, Bengaluru, to overcome symptoms of mental illness. “Also, schools were urged to hire a psychiatrist to give regular counselling to those vulnerable to mental disorders or depression.”

Club president Aishwarya (4th from L) with Rotarians, Rotaractors and children at the Government Varishtha Upadhyay Sanskrit School, Udaipur, in Project Alpahaar that provides nutritious meals to government school students.

A Plastic-free Week was observed (July 3–9) on the college campus with Rotaractors urging the staff and students to use alternatives to plastic for an eco-friendly lifestyle. PDG Marja Ritterfeld from Uelsen, Germany, RID 1850, wrote an appreciative letter to both RC Udaipur Yuva and RAC Aishwarya on their anti-plastic campaign that lifted their public image in Udaipur and beyond.

While book donation to government schools is a regular feature in their itinerary, “recently we distributed food to around 80 deaf and blind children at the Theosophical Society which gave us much satisfaction. Seed balls tipped pens were given to 1,000 students of government schools, and once thrown after use, it will grow into trees,” she recalls.

I am grooming all my 20 Rotaract members with right skillsets to become Rotarians in the near future.
– Aishwarya Singh, president, RAC Aishwarya

A symbiotic link

It is surprising to note that RC Udaipur Yuva. a two-year-old club with 22 members, is now mentoring a Rotaract club that was formed 20 years ago, but had to wind up during the pandemic due to hurdles. After the Rotaract club was revived in June 2022, their parent Rotary is a pillar of support and is mentoring the Rotaractors in all possible ways.

Shedding light on the genesis of her Rotary club, Aishwarya says, “we formed this club to attract young professionals in age group of 18–40 and thus become a crucible of ideas and innovation.” In fact, out of 22 Rotaractors at the Aishwarya College, started by her mother Rtn Seema Singh with 30 years of experience in academics, she had already identified five who could become Rotarians as “they have got the right experience, attitude and skill sets.”

Interactors with certificates after the essay writing contest on World Population Day at The Vision Academy School RMV.

While the Rotaract club has become the de facto B-team of RC Udaipur Yuva, “we are also grooming Interactors at RVUS Vidyalaya, a Sanskrit school in Udaipur, and The Vision Academy School RMV to fit into the shoes of Rotaractors at the right time.” In a way, Aishwarya and her team have sketched out the line of succession from being an Interactor to a Rotarian for service-minded youth in Udaipur for decades to come.

 

Interact programmes

Rotaractors engage around 20 Interactors at both these schools in a range of activities like essay writing and poster-making, street plays and creating awareness on social issues through rallies and competitions. “Our Interactors are well aware of Rotary’s global reach and what it means to be a Rotarian,” smiles Aishwarya, the 32-year-old graphic designer and a Rotarian for eight years.

Her stint in RC Dubai (UAE) while living there for a brief period (2018–21) gave her much cross-cultural exposure that shaped her Rotary ideology.

Aishwarya is also the secretary of RID 3056-Women’s Empowerment Committee.

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