Youth Services Month
May is Youth Services Month in the Rotary world.  We, in District 5340, are very involved in youth services and programming.  We have covered some of the programs in  earlier Musings.  Now we will take an overall look at what it is we do.
Interact Clubs
First, is our engagement with Interact clubs.  Many of our clubs support Interact clubs found primarily in high schools.  Leadership skills are taught at this level as well as the value of service above self.
Many interact students are exposed to Rotary as clubs invite the Interact students to club meetings.  This offers many benefits as young students see Rotarians setting an example of what it means to be community service oriented.  These young people get a taste of the internationality of Rotary which promotes cultural and international understanding.
Rotary club members serve as mentors to guide the students.  And, the students work on at least two projects a year.  One, a school or community based project and, two, a project that focuses on international understanding.
This year during the pandemic when most of the schools were teaching by zoom and students were not physically on campus, the Vista club sponsored an Interact club at Mission Vista High School.  This was quite an impressive accomplishment by the Vista club.  Endeavors like that shown by the Vista club supports my premise that Rotarians are a solution in search of a challenge.
Richard Arroyo of the Chula Vista Eastlake club chairs the Interact committee for the District.
Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA)
RYLA is an intensive leadership program designed to develop those skills over the course of a weekend at a camp retreat.  Recently that program has been held at Idyllwild.  Except for this year. 
High school students are selected by their schools and sponsoring Rotary club.  In the past there about 600 students attend RYLA.  This year, the program was a one-day retreat on zoom.  There were a little less than 300 participants.
The weekend is shared making new, long lasting friendship.  Motivational speakers and peer mentors highlight the weekend where the students learn strategies for becoming a leader.  Team building is very much a part of the program.  Students learn about each others struggles to get on in school in school and life.  It truly is a transformative experience.  
Kelly Mayberry of the Escondido Sunrise club chairs the RYLA committee for the District.
Rotary Youth Exchange
Another great youth-oriented program is the Rotary Youth Exchange.  High School students are eligible to spend three months in one of 100 countries or spend an entire academic year abroad.  These lucky students stay with host families learning the culture, the history and language of the host country.  They develop long term relationships with their host families and the friends they make.  
Our Rotary International President, Holger Knaack and his wife, Suzanne, have hosted over 40 Youth Exchange students.  He stays in touch with all of them.  They become family.  Our District has hosted many Youth Exchange students over the years.
More than 50 years ago, I was an exchange student to Japan (Moshi Moshi).  That experience is still vivid to me this day.  The things I learned about other people, other cultures informs my view of the world.  If you know a student who would be interested in becoming a Youth Exchange student, I would highly recommend it.
Unfortunately, because of the pandemic there will be no Youth Exchange program until July 2022. 
Eliot Weitz of the Carlsbad club chairs the District’s Youth Exchange committee.
There are seven community-based Rotaract clubs in our District and three college- based Rotaract clubs.  Rotaract club members start in college and, then, hopefully join a community based Rotaract club to meet with their peers.  Rotaract members share the same rights and privileges as Rotarians in the 60 clubs of our District. 
Rotaract members are highly energized to do projects in the community or by joining a nearby Rotary club to do their projects.  On Rotarians at Work day, Rotaract members were out in force.  In fact, Rotaract clubs are allocated funds to do District Designated Fund (DDF) projects.
Chuck Pretto of Club 33 chairs the Rotaract committee for the District.
4-Way Speech Contest

Thursday was the finals of the District’s 4-Way Speech Contest hosted virtually by Club 33.  The four high school students (all young ladies) who participated were outstanding.  I had seen each of them twice on their way to the finals.  Their presentations were the best of their efforts.  No notes, no prompts and a 5-7 minute window to complete their speech.  
Thi Luong of Hoover High School delivered the winning speech and earned the $1,000 first place prize.  I have no doubt that the scoring was razor thin between all four students.  I didn’t envy the judges for the task they had.
Nancy Vaughan, Stephanie Saathoff and Jack Berkman did a stellar job of making this work during the pandemic.
Other Happenings Around the District
Sister Club
Wednesday, the Downtown Evening club had a ceremony to partner and become a “sister club” with the Cordoba Rotary Club 2000 in Vera Cruz, Mexico.  President Bertha de la Fuente of the Downtown evening club spoke as did the president of the Cordoba Rotary Club, Braulio Ortiz Esparza.  
The District Governor of District 4185, Sergio Cruz spoke as did I.  We talked about the growing friendship and relationship that we were sowing.  We all expect good things to happen because of this alliance.
Membership Seminar #3
This Saturday, May 8th from 9-10:30AM, is our Membership Seminar - “Why Rotary; and Why Now.”  This is the third in a series of informative workshops.  This is a virtual workshop open to all Club Presidents, Presidents-Elect, AG's, Membership Chairs and committee members.
This promises to be a tremendous opportunity to continue to grow our club membership.  After all, the more helping hands the better.  
The seminar is free, so please register for the chance to sharpen our ability to attract and retain members.  And, we will be able to catch up with each other in the breakout rooms.