Ashley Smith and I, Co-chairs of the Next Generation committee Group, are interested in finding some volunteers to research some of the Next Generation Programs that have been inactive. Your work, after a review by the Next Gen committee, would have you presenting a report and recommendation to the Rotary Board. Your work would be focused on whether these programs should be restarted, refocused, or scrapped. There may be other areas of outreach that would be more effective for the intended purposes of a Next Generation Committee.
The current dormant programs are Rotaract, Exchange Student (in/outbound) and Wings of Rotary. Junior Rotarians and RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Academy) are alive, well and going strong thanks to Lou Gasbarra and Susan Adams.
Rotaract is a Rotary-sponsored service club for young men and women ages 18 to 30. Rotaract is a satellite Rotary for college students which brings them together to exchange ideas with leaders in the community, develop leadership and professional skills, and have fun through service. There are 184 countries around the world who have Rotaract clubs and approximately 257,792 members worldwide. The question is should we make a renewed effort to start a Rotaract Club or should we find another way to broadly connect with young professionals who are interested in working for the betterment of the community. Club 29 has struggled in four prior attempts to start a Rotaract program. Former member Marty O’Gwynn made the most recent attempt at OKC University but could not sustain a program. Ashley and I are curious if there is an opportunity to reach out to groups like OKC Young Professionals, the Downtown Club and OKC Leadership particularly the LOYAL and YLX programs that are targeted at younger members of our community. It may be that having a delegation from some of these organizations attend once a year as our guest, with one of their members introducing the delegation and commenting very briefly on their organization, could spark an interest that presumably Rotaract is intended to do.
The Exchange Student program works with Rotary International and District to arrange for a student from the Oklahoma City area to study at a high school in another country for one year and to be hosted by Rotary families in that country. It also arranges for a high school students from another country to attend school in our area. Arrangements include recruiting host families, selection of a school, and coordination of events in association with the student exchange. This program involves a fully twelve (12) month commitment. Students spend approximately three to four months with their host families, ideally rotating through 4 host families during the year. The problem in the past has been an adequate supply of host families. We believe that an energetic volunteer, with our help, can find host families and begin to receive an incoming exchange student. We also need to find the best way to make sure that our Rotarian colleagues are aware of the opportunities provided to their children or grandchildren to travel abroad for a year of study. Perhaps we could have former exchange students now Club 29 members make periodic announcements as we near the deadlines.
Wings of Rotary works with Rotary District 5750 to exchange high school students between Oklahoma and the Sendai Region of Japan. Students from Japan arrive in Oklahoma in March for the week and the Oklahoma students travel to Japan in June. The deadline to apply is December 1. We will need 1-3 host families to host the Japanese students. Volunteer host families usually host students for two to three days. The student travels to various other areas of the state and other clubs host them for parts of their stay. There is a specific itinerary and host families provide room, breakfast, and delivery to the predetermined venue.
If you are interested in volunteering to work to restart the Exchange Student program or to help Club 29 again participate in the Wings of Rotary please let us know and join us for the meeting below. If you are interested in doing some research on Rotaract and it’s alternatives…please also come. OR if you cannot volunteer to take the lead but have some thoughts for us on these matters please come by.
Ashley and I have reserved the Parlor at St. Lukes for a meeting immediately after the Rotary Club Meeting on August 21. Please attend to share your thoughts.
Ashley Smith and David Walters