For many of you this post is going to sound like a broken record. But hey, it’s a big deal to me, so keep reading. :)
My parent’s aside, I more or less give credit to Rotary International for me being who I am today. I won’t run down the whole history, but to understand what I want to say I need to go back (nearly) to the beginning.
When I was in high school I had the opportunity to serve as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student in Germany for 1 year. The was my first time out of the country and certainly the longest that I was away from home. This opened my eyes to the world and and set the stage for my insistent need to constantly be on the move, discovering new places and knowing new people.
After high school, I visited my Rotary exchange friends in Brazil where I backpacked around for 6 months. This opened my eyes wider but most importantly it gave me a glimpse into some of the great need that exists in the world. I dare say that Brazil is my favorite place I have ever been. The people have beautiful souls and the culture is phenomenal. As a developing nation, Brazil also has areas in need of great attention and help.
The combination of these two international experiences and the values instilled in me by Rotary, led me to my path in life. I knew at 18 that I wanted to spend my life working in in the international theater in a capacity which brings help to those seeking it.
So then the question was, “how do I make this life for myself?” It didn’t take long for me to learn about the Peace Corps and the doors PC service can open to the Foreign Service. My path was set.
I went to college where I studied Political Science and was set on Peace Corps service immediately after college. However, for a combination of very good reasons, my service would be delayed a few years while I explored a very worthwhile career in the events and entertainment industry.
I have a talent and passion for the events work I did and I am continuously finding those skills and experiences serving me very well in other facets of life. The problem I had with my past events career is that I was always too close to conversations that left passion behind and replaced it with a drive for profit.
No doubt I am all about making money and hope to very successful in this manner throughout my life, but the drive for cash cannot outweigh the mission of the work for me.
I needed something to believe in. I needed to get back on track with my life plan. I needed to get into the Peace Corps.
And so it was from a dear friend, David Becker, whom I actually only knew for a short time while I was living in Los Angeles last summer, I was reminded what I needed to do and that there is no time like the present to do it. He had already been accepted into the Peace Corps and would spend the first year in graduate school as part of the Peace Corps Master’s Program before going abroad. Through our conversations, I was inspired to submit my application without delay. From their, the rest is history.
David, by the way, is a member of the Rotary Family, and it is through this commonality that we met.
The entire country of Kyrgyzstan has only one Rotary Club; in the capital of Bishkek. Last weekend, in my small town in isolated west Kyrgyzstan (7 hours from the capital) I went “guesting” at an acquaintance’s family’s house. This family has a daughter who is currently serving as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student in Germany. She is set to return home next month and I can’t wait to meet this new member of the Rotary Family.
Rotary has given me much. Unique experiences, purpose, drive and so much more. But the most important thing is connectivity to a massive and wonderful network of people. As they say, “it’s the people that make the place,” and Rotary people are well-meaning humanitarians that have no borders to their influence and service.
I am proud and honored to be a part of the Rotary Family. Being in the Peace Corps is a great way for me to fulfill the Rotary mission.
Many years ago my dad gave me a coin that has the Rotary emblem and slogan, “Service Above Self,” on one side, and the 4-Way Test on the other. I carry this coin with me everyday and so in closing, I leave you with this Test to consider as you go about your affairs today:
The 4-Way Test Of the things we think say or do:
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