Becoming a Rotaractor was me making a choice at a crossroads. I was leaving behind my long Toastmasters journey and choosing what to do with my life. Then I just knew this was where I would be next. There is always something more you will learn when you walk in a strange environment, but as you keep on walking, you will realize it is not so strange or bad. You are learning to survive by adjusting, improving, and exploring. Time flies, but it’s your job to make it count, and I am truly honored by all the experiences I’ve had.
I still remember the day when I became the International Service Director (ISD). Our Secretary, Tharushika, called me late at night. At the time, I was not a Rotaractor but had assisted in a project. She asked me if I could take on the role as soon as possible. Personally, I believe in grabbing onto opportunities because there are not many second chances in life. The next thing I know is that we were planning projects, reaching out to clubs around the world, and working hard to implement them successfully. I also got to know that many believed it was cool to be the ISD.
I know everyone believes that International Service Avenue has fewer projects. However, there are letterhead exchanges, fellowship events, and more projects to do. Over the past year, we exchanged seven letterheads. “Kuppiya 5.0” was held in two phases. The first phase was an educational session on “Inflation in Economy,” and the second phase was an awareness session for undergraduates on studying abroad and scholarship opportunities. It was nerve-wracking because I was trying to somehow make it work. The project took a long time to conclude because of both clubs’ circumstances. The second project was “Nayak,” which was much more successful than “Kuppiya” because all three clubs were very dedicated to completing the project within the agreed timeline. I dare say it was a one-of-a-kind leadership training program. Every session was conducted by professionals with practical experience. I hope it will become a continuous project that focuses on providing practical experience as well. So far, I believe we have done well!
There were, naturally, moments of frustration, given that reality is different from expectation. First, it is hard to do a joint project with foreign clubs and assure them that it will be fun. Secondly, there will always be more online meetings than offline. While executing, there were other challenges. For example, I had to constantly keep in contact with the other clubs’ ISDs to finish “Kuppiya” because it had been dragged on for months. Then we will have fewer active members in the avenue to join the projects. I remember one session having to be cancelled because there were only 10 people and the speaker had to wait longer for participants. I was panicking, restless, and angry. However, we completed it on a positive note and afterwards began to approach the others in the avenue differently. I thought that we should do a project that would help us in the future. I learned my lesson and tried my best to do “Nayak”. We fared better through “Nayak” than with “Kuppiya”.
I’d also like to mention everyone who has supported me along the way. Kavindi has been an ever-supportive person since the very beginning. Whenever I couldn’t reach our President, I turned to her, and she would clear up any doubt I had. I also wish to extend my gratitude to all the Rotaract clubs that collaborated on our projects. Those who are not on the organizing committee will not realize the difficulties we face when finding a cooperative club for IS projects. Therefore, we are very grateful for their contributions and support. There is another person I am most grateful for because she advised me a lot when I was feeling as if I was at a bottleneck. She encouraged me to approach people differently and to be stronger, and I admire her level of dedication to her projects. This is none other than our own Community Service Director, Buddhimali. Finally, none of the projects would have been successful if not for the joint organizing committees of the projects, participants, and resource personnel. More specifically, I want you to know Naveen, from wherever you are right now, you helped me, and I am grateful for you. Everyone will remember you and keep you in their prayers.
To all of those who are yet to join this path or are doubting why they joined, I say keep exploring. Learn to observe those around you. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help and take at least a small risk with your team. Then I hope you can admire your present version of yourself compared to how you were a year ago. This is where I met a lot of people and made friends, and I know it was the same for everyone else. Cheer up, and all the best to Thusini and Ranosha. This is just another beginning, girls!
Rtr. Jayani Herath
Director of the International Service Avenue
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