District Governor News

Ann Fuge

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District 6220 Exec. Asst.

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Dear Rotarians,

We are entering a very busy time of year for our District.  Much information is being shared with your Club and District regarding activities occurring in District 6220.  One focus area shared at this time of year asks club members to look at involvement and support for our Youth activities.  While at PETS training our newly elected President–Elects had reviewed information on these programs among other information their Clubs will be asked to address during the upcoming year. Each Rotarian can help by offering to help with any of the many programs and projects your individual Club decides to participate in and especially those involving Youth, our future Rotary members.

Any words I offer to encourage your involvement fall short of testimonials from the participants themselves.  To that end I would like to share some of these thoughts from the students.  They have willingly shared both verbal video as well as written reflections.


  • A poem written by one of our RYE students, Prachi, an in-bound student.  She wrote and presented this poem for a recent District conference.  
  • A reflective note from a RYLA student willing to share the impact one weekend can have on a young person learning about themselves and how to interact with others.
  • A video (link provided) developed by exchange students for the annual International Day celebrated by the Waupaca club.  Waupaca is a community that certainly embraces the diversity these young people bring to their community.  (After clicking on the link, if you are having problems accessing the video due to its size, attached are directions to watch via Windows Media Player)

Our Outbound RYE coordinator, Katie Havel, develops a You Tube video every year to share with the parents of these special students.  These videos are a collection of reflective thoughts from the students themselves, organized by Katie and viewed during one of the weekend conferences held to prepare the students and families for their upcoming exchange year.  For your enjoyment, click here for a recent video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9_etjou3TA . You can also go to You Tube and find more on your own.

Please take the time to review this information and consider finding a way to support the involvement of your Club with our Youth programs.

DISTRICT to be held in Green Bay, May 20, 2017 also includes participation by the students and is a great way for each of you to get to know the students, hear about their countries, and learn about many other great activities occurring in District 6220.

I look forward to seeing all of you on May 20, 2017.  We need your registration for planning now.

Rotary Hugs,

I truly do believe in RYLA. I believe in the message and mission more than most all other organizations and establishments. I believe that it is a true gift for anybody involved, no matter what they take away from it. That being said, I’ll begin my short yet potently passionate RYLA story. 

I didn’t know what I was doing. Like almost everyone on the first day, I half wanted to get it all over with within five minutes of arriving. There’s a consensus that most kids reach while discussing RYLA on later on, and that is the feeling of “What did I get myself into?” It’s almost scary for most people going in, because it’s obviously not their comfort zone, seeing as they were the type of person chosen to go in the first place. This was me, as were many others. I pushed back for awhile, going off to the side, and shut down for about 20 minutes. Then I noticed something. Something strange caught my eye. I had an almost transcendent sense of clarity and looking around, realized that this was a special place. There was no judgement or putting down. There was no mention of conformity. I wrote this next little part while discussing a few weeks ago with my fellow student facilitators and I think it sends the message better than anything.

“When I first got here, I thought that the people were weird. Like, really weird. But after about the second day, I realized why they were being so weird. They were happy, truly happy. And that’s a thing rarely seen in lots of people. True happiness and comfortability around others is sadly missing in many people’s lives. That’s where RYLA comes along. It shows that happiness achieved through making others happy is a rewarding thing. It shows that helping others often helps yourself more. It shows that taking a break from the goals to provide assistance, emotional or otherwise, should be a priority. To stray from the path and give a helping hand to someone just creates a more beaten secondary avenue that happiness and joy and true self can flow through and fertilize the growth of others into their most pure, reliant form. RYLA shows vulnerability and pushes one out into the limelight, a place where self-discovery takes place. RYLA provides a stage with which one can perform and improve, yet never be judged.”

I wrote that in response to the question: Why do you love RYLA? It addresses my thoughts on the first day, but I think the feelings carry on through the weekend. On Saturday night, I had a breakthrough. I opened up in a way that I never had before. It was scary and I felt vulnerable, but I knew it was safe. I was so reserved because I had a reputation back home of being a serious, closed book with almost a militant leadership style. I realized on that second day that reputations didn’t matter there and shouldn’t matter in the outside world. I realized that I should just be who I be. And that gift is almost impossible to explain with words. I can’t convey the sense of happiness and total sense of self that I, along with numerous others, gained at RYLA. I knew I needed to come back. I craved it. I remember sitting there in NASH, the mess hall, on the last day, and thinking, “It may be another whole Christmas, birthday, fourth of july, a whole year until I can feel this way again.” And it drove me crazy to think that I may not come back. So, I told myself that I’d do whatever it took to get back. And I’m infinitely happy that I can come back. At first, I wanted to go back for myself, which is admittedly a bit selfish. But after going back to my tiny school of 120 kids and realizing that so many of that small portion of the population was missing the thing that RYLA gave, I wanted to help them. I want to go back to open people up and help them to be who they be. RYLA means an escape. It is a place to discover who you want to be. The thing I love about it is that it’s only an escape. It isn’t a place for sanctuary. It’s open-ended. At some point, you’ll be pushed out to the outside world to share your true self and your knowledge. It demands you to improved mankind, on whatever scale you can. For this reason, I believe that RYLA is truly an amazing thing. Now, I’m speaking like RYLA is a living being, and in a way it is. The people there provide life to the whole system and make it all possible. My fellow student facilitators are vital to the whole thing. The staff is vital. The Rotarians, the people in this room, are vital to giving this life-changing project life. But the most important parts are the students. The kids that go and discover themselves and improve themselves make it what it is. Without them, there would be no point. Rotarians make it all possible. Student facilitators and staff run it and make it go smoothly. The vital parts that culminate in the project are all imperative to success. But above all, the wide-eyed, half scared to death students being coaxed out of their comfort zones are the reward. They take the lessons and spread the message. They get there and don’t believe that RYLA is truly life-changing, like we insist. That’s what I thought upon arriving. I was sure that people were being overly dramatic and merely exaggerating. I’m sure that is what people will think this year. I learned different. And I can’t wait to help others learn the message of the life-changing gift that is RYLA.

Katie Havel RYE videos – You Tube