Guest journalist: International RYLA
Christina Dombrowsky attends the 2010 International RYLA in Montréal, Québec, Cananda. Photo by Arnold R. Grahl
One word, in any language, not enough to describe RYLA
When my group at the International RYLA attempted to describe our experience in one word or phrase, we came up with several possibilities: exciting, culturally enriching, colorful, and worldly.
But one language was not enough to envelope our true emotions. Rotary Youth Leadership Awards was truly klockrent in Swedish, genial in French, khush in Hindi, verruklik in Afrikaans, saudades in Portuguese, enestaende in Norwegian, nezabudnutelne in Czech, and ich liebe dich RYLA in German.
The theme of the 2010 International RYLA was "The Future of Leadership Is through Global Understanding"
Over the course of the weekend, participants from 30 countries came together and built an interconnected community of young leaders.
From making up our own ball games in RYLA Ball to making up what we envision the world to be in 2030 -- from building human pyramids in our teams to building water purification tools used in developing countries -- we broke down stereotypes, worked around language barriers, and built partnerships with new friends around the globe. We learned that a smile and a hug transcend any language.
A participant from Norway shared that RYLA helps us "put a face to a country." Another from the United States said, "They are no longer just a place on the map. Now they are a place in my heart. When I watch the news, I will no longer think of what I hear as events that affect people in that country, but events that affect my new friends."
We were empowered to walk through open doors with open minds. And if the doors don't open for us, we may have to knock 'em down!
We were assured, by each other, that we are capable of making an impact on the world.
RYLA is more than a gift. It's a challenge -- a challenge to us to be the best global citizens we can be. We accept that challenge.
Thank you, Rotary, for trusting us with your future.
Christina Dombrowsky was sponsored for the International RYLA by District 6930 (Florida, USA). She is a district Rotaract representative and a former Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar.