Service Above Self

How giving back to my community created other communities

Opinion of Joyce Lin

“What are you thankful for?” The answer immediately comes to my mind:

I know it may seem like an obvious answer, but I truly mean it. For the past two year, so many doors opened, filled with meaningful dialogues, unimaginable opportunities, and incredible people.

Rotary International is a global service organization that strives to “make positive, lasting change in communities at home and abroad.” There are approximately 1.2 million people who are involved in some type of way, whether they are part of a Rotary Club, Interact Club, or Rotaract Club.
Each of those 1.2 million people are part of one of the 529 districts around the world. East Lyme is part of District 7980, which includes four counties.
I am part the ELHS Rotary Interact Club; we work in conjunction with the Niantic Rotary Club, comprised of various business-owners and entrepreneurs in the community. Throughout the club’s history, we have strived to team up with other Interact Clubs in our surrounding communities.
We have worked with Interactors from Hamden, Ledyard, Stonington, and Guilford, just to name a few. With every project that I have been involved in, every event I have attended, the most meaningful part was getting the chance to meet different people.

It is definitely not immediately easy to get out of the little, comfortable bubble of East Lyme. But after a while, you need to seek out more and enlarge your community. When I was a sophomore, I attended the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) and saying it changed my life is not an overstatement; it is an understatement.
It is not easy to explain, but to me, RYLA was like a mix between having those deep 3 a.m., can’t fall asleep talks with your best friends and developing a passion to make a positive change.
And the crazy part is that those best friends are complete strangers on day one, but by the end of the weekend, it feels like you’ve known them all your life. We all got to enlarge our social circles and immerse ourselves in a strong network.
Even though we’re from all different parts of the state, with completely different lives, Rotary still links us together.
Over the past year, there have been so many projects: a district-wide dance to raise money and awareness for children with heart diseases, a district-wide kickball tournament to raise money to send Biosand water filters to villages in India, and more.
Rotary has inspired me to leap out of my comfort zone and find ways to connect with new people. In doing so, I get to be part of this fellowship that emphasizes “service above self,” a motto that has taught me to encourage others to make a change.

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