Former Youth Exchange student champions Rotary
Megan Miller (right) and Veronica Barsan, her co-teacher for a class in life skills at a school in Floreşti, Moldova. Miller, a former Youth Exchange student, spent two years in Moldova with the Peace Corps. Photo courtesy Megan Miller
When Megan Miller, a former Rotary Youth Exchange student serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Floreşti, Moldova, realized her school lacked essential supplies and needed windows that could keep out extreme temperatures, she knew exactly where to turn.
She contacted the Rotary Club of Chisinau and her father's Rotary Club of Van Wert, Ohio, USA. With help from a Rotary Foundation Matching Grant, the two clubs were able to secure the supplies and windows for the school where she was teaching.
Miller, who spoke at the District 6600 (Ohio) Conference in April, received a Rotary Volunteers Certificate of Recognition from the district for continually championing Rotary's efforts. She said she grew up "with a strong sense of volunteerism," inspired by the dedication that her father, a past president of the Van Wert club, showed toward Rotary.
Miller spent her senior year of high school in Baden, Austria, as a Rotary Youth Exchange student. She says the network of Youth Exchange students in Europe provided a strong support system and became a second family to her.
"Beyond just volunteerism, Rotary is really an international organization," she says.
Her exchange led her to spend a semester and multiple summers in Africa while she was an undergraduate at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. She joined the Peace Corps after graduating in 2004 and spent the next two years in Moldova.
She was assigned to a small village in the Floreşti district, where she taught a life skills class to 1st through 11th graders. As part of a pilot program, she worked with her fellow teachers to create a fresh public health curriculum for all grades. She drew support from her parents, especially her mother, who is also a teacher.
When she discovered her school's vital needs, Miller turned to Rotary for help because of her past involvement with the organization and its commitment to service. Through persistence, she brought together the two Rotary clubs and orchestrated their cooperation.
"It took awhile to get the ball rolling, but it definitely paid off," says Miller. "I felt so indebted to both clubs for taking this on and getting us what we needed."
Now a student at the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work, she says she's interested in joining a Rotary club in the future and continues to participate in projects back home.
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