It’s a big deal to turn 50! It’s an even bigger deal to celebrate the accomplishments of a strong and robust Rotary Club. On August 22, 2023, the Port Orchard Rotary Club celebrated our commitment to Rotary’s Youth Exchange Program by including our 1993-1994 Inbound Youth Exchange student, Natailia Encinas, in our ZOOM meeting from Buenos Aires, Argentina!
Many members of the Club remember Natalia as an outgoing, gregarious student with a desire to do all she could to maximize her total experience during her stay with us! We have fond memories of our time with her. During our conversation, she mentioned that Port Orchard is “her home away from home” and that “my life was forever changed by my time with the Rotary Club in Port Orchard.” Tears were shed in the room and on Zoom! Natalia is now 47 years old and is the Legal Manager of the Port of Buenos Aires! She is married and has an 8-year-old daughter. As much as she says we changed her life, there is no doubt that she changed ours as well. And thirty years later, it was evident that she had a most positive impact!
A secondary benefit of highlighting a past inbound is the timing: one week before our new inbound arrives! This meeting was not only a celebratory moment, but it also afforded the opportunity to remind our members of the important role they play in engaging with our new inbound. Clubs often get tired of the constant requests, pleads, haranguing, whatever from the YEO. Scheduling a Zoom call with a past inbound allows the Club to be reminded of their role without involving the YEO. The goal, therefore, of this effort was twofold: set the stage for member expectations moving forward and celebrating 30 years of friendship. We won on both counts!!!
The Youth Exchange program is an original “Bring Hope to The World” program. When a student from another country – often one less developed than ours – the exchange of cultural awareness, living experiences, family connections, and exploration forge bonds that time cannot break. Those bonds, combined with an increased awareness of the world we share with fellow humans, improve life in so many ways and maintain our common desire to keep service above self. This year, we welcome Nadin Szucs-Lechner from Hungary. She arrives on August 28, and we are very excited to meet her.