RYLA North America…Pretty Amazing

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RI President Gary Huang and First Lady, Corinna Yao (Center Right) at the opening ceremonies of RYLA North America.  Yes…we were “Happy Clappin” with President Gary.

There are times when you are reminded that energy, enthusiasm, optimism, and good old fashioned idealism are fun to be around.  Yes…some say that youth is wasted on the young, but I guarantee you that if you spend some time at the RYLA North America Conference you will start to see the world a little more positively.  RYLA stands for Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, and the attendees are, for the most part, Rotaractor’s from around the world. They come to the National 4-H Center in Washington, DC  to celebrate service to others, and while they are at it, to learn a little bit more about Rotary. According to the website, the RYLA Conference in North America is an intense leadership training program that is designed to recognize, encourage, and further develop the leadership skills of 18-30 year olds who have shown a potential for rendering important service to their local communities. 

Here is the Founder of RYLA North America and current President of the new Federal City Rotary club, Navin Valliappan, to tell you a little more about it.

I’ve been to a District RYLA meeting before but this is a different, international event.   And yes, the brass came out to welcome the young men and women who came to participate, including RI President Gary Huang and his wife, Corinna.  Guess what I found out while hanging out with President Gary over lunch?  The RI President picks his own theme for his Presidential year.  He picked “Light Up Rotary” a full year before his term began and in time for Rotary to publicize it at the Rotary International Conference prior to his year.  Who knew?  I always thought the PR Dept. did that kind of stuff.  (This is the kind of intrepid reporting my RFA readers expect and I strive to deliver.)

But as usual, I digress.  During the opening ceremonies there was the proper amount of speechifying and a parade of flags (actually a parade of signs) for each country.  We were also treated to a taste of international entertainment.  Note:  Check out the RYLA participants getting all the action on their smart phones.

I think I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

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The Parade of Flags…er….Signs…during the Opening Ceremonies. You can see that the RYLA participants were severely depressed and not having a good time.
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Yours Truly hanging with my new friends from the Ethiopia contingent. My club does a lot of service work in Addis Ababa so we had something to talk about. I wish you could have met these terrific young men and women.
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L-R: Yours Truly, Washington DC Club President, Jennifer Hara, RI President Gary Huang, the First Lady, Corinna, and District 7620 PR Chair, Dawn Wittfelt.  Not pictured, the dozens of  RYLA participants who had their picture taken with President Gary and Corinna before they graciously, and patiently, posed for this picture.
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A happy group of Rotaractor’s from Barbados. Here’s a crew that is going to make a positive difference in our world. It was a privilege to meet them.
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The Big Brass from District 7620 getting the orchestra seating at the Opening Ceremonies. From L-R: District First Lady, Kathleen Fine, DG Bill Fine, RI President Gary Huang, First Lady Corinna Yao, the person who did all of the DG work last year, Margaret Kyle, and the IPDG who let Margaret do all of the work last year, Peter Kyle.

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