From Interactor to International Student: How Rotary has guided my path

By Yusuf M. Tasyurt, member of the 2022-2023 Rotary International Interact Advisory Council

I first learned about Rotary International when I was just 14 years old. Immediately interested in Rotary’s focus on service and leadership, I knew this was an organization I wanted to be a part of. In my prep year of high school, I decided to join my school’s Interact club and I recognize this as the first of many important steps in my Rotary journey.

In the five years since, Interact has empowered me to serve my community and grow leadership skills in many ways. In 2018 I participated in the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA), organized by the Istanbul Rotary Club, where I learned that great leaders adapt and take initiative under difficult conditions. Two years later, I served as the President of my Interact club and helped to organize this same experience for others. Unfortunately, the pandemic hit that same year and threatened to cancel our RYLA event. Recalling my experience as a RYLA participant and the valuable lessons on leadership I learned, I proactively suggested that we transition to an online RYLA and broaden our audience. We successfully organized our RYLA online and invited over 120 participants from all over the world to join!

The following year, I became District 2420’s Interact Representative. In this role, I had access to mentors, from Rotaractors to Rotarians. I found this mentorship to be so valuable that I partnered with the Rotaractors in my district to create a project development mentorship program between Interactors and Rotaractors. This program empowered Interactors to build new skills and increase their commitment to Rotary through the personal connections they made with each other and their Rotaract mentors. Inspired by my experiences within my district, I was ready to reach Interactors across the globe and was selected to serve on the 2022-2023 Interact Advisory Council.

My experience in the 2022-2023 Interact Advisory Council has shown me that the Rotary spirit exists without borders. Not only was I able to build relationships and collaborate with Interactors and Interact alumni from different countries, but my contributions during my time on the Council will have an impact on Interact clubs across the globe!

Without Interact, I wouldn’t have realized my potential for leadership and service. Interact has helped me discover my character and passion, and the Rotary ideal of “Service Above Self” has become a guiding principle in my life that I strive to put into practice every day. Thanks to Rotary, I have learned that there is great satisfaction and fulfillment in service and making a positive impact on my community. I am also grateful for the friendships that I have made through Interact, and I am sure that these connections will last a lifetime.

As I prepare for the next chapter of my life, I am determined to remain committed to Rotary for life. Next year, I will be in the United States of America for my college education as an international student. Although I have never visited the USA before, being a part of a global organization that shares my values and beliefs instills me with a sense of confidence. I know that I will be welcome in my future Rotaract club, and I look forward to connecting with other Interact and Rotary members to make a positive impact on my new community.

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