Skip to main content

From Interactor to RI director

A surprise call to the headmaster’s office is usually cause for concern. So when Patrick Chisanga was summoned to the office with seven other students, he remembers wondering, What have we done?

The worry was short-lived. Waiting with the headmaster at that meeting half a century ago was Richard Farmer, a member of parliament from Chisanga’s hometown in Zambia’s Copperbelt region — and a Rotarian. Farmer and the headmaster had been in talks about starting an Interact club at the school, and the eight students had been hand-picked as the club’s charter members. “This is the beginning of a long journey,” Farmer told them — and for Chisanga, that held true.

Image credit: Monika Lozinska

After joining the new Interact club, he became its vice president and began sitting in on Rotary meetings to learn about what clubs do. He was selected to go to Kenya, where different Rotarians hosted him for a day or two, including the district governor who took Chisanga to see several Rotary projects in Mombasa. "I was so impressed," he said during an interview with former Interactor and current Rotarian Anniela Carracedo at the International Assembly in January. "I was so intrigued by this man, his commitment, and the heart he was displaying for the community."

The visit convinced Chisanga that Farmer had been right: This was a journey he wanted to continue. Today, Chisanga is a Rotary International director and an expert in corporate governance. He firmly believes that Interact is the future of Rotary. "If we can inculcate Rotary values and the spirit of service at that young age, it stays with you. It never leaves your mind," he says.

This story originally appeared in the May 2023 issue of Rotary magazine.

Interact clubs bring together young people ages 12-18 to develop leadership skills while discovering the power of Service Above Self.