Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Rotary International

            It’s the end of Januaray, marking 2 months in Bissau, and life is starting to get that routine kind of feeling.  I walk around town now and run into people I know and I can navigate around Bissau more or less by my self, and my kreole has getting a lot better. 
            I started meeting a lot more people since I started taking and French and Portuguese classes.  I’m taking Portuguese because the 4 months I spent in Brasil only gave me a speaking foundation, my reading and writing is probably at the 3rd grade level.  I’m taking French because after 8 years ( 8th grade through sophomore year of college) all I have to show for it is a few phrases. Portuguese completely took over my French vocabulary.
            I started my first day of Portuguese class and I met a guy named Abdu.  In conversation he mentioned he was the secretary of the youth branch of the club Rotary International called Rotaract Bissau.
            I had heard about Rotary international from Amy White, the Director of Land Watch which is a non-profit in Monteray County. On top of running a non-profit she also works on projects with Rotary International including a water development project in Ecuador.  In a conversation with her she mention that its easier to do something if you have a name to back it up. Meaning to say, having a non-profit or organization to represent gives you more credibility then just representing yourself.
An event held in 2011on Education, Technology and Culture
            I had been thinking about ways to give back and I thought it’d be good to connect with folks my age who are serving their community. So I checked out this meeting. Because it was late at night I dragged my neighbor Hilah along with me. We learned that Rotaract Bissau was founded 2 years ago and is for youth ages 18-30 who want to get involved and run projects. The group is small, only 5 people who attend consistently. And the organization of the Club is very Bissau like (meaning that things get done whenever they get done). But the group has alot of passion and they have done several projects over the past couple years. You can check out their past projects and read more information about them on their blog Rotaract Club de Bissau.  I hope you can read Portuguese! (Even if you can't, take a looksy just for fun!) 
            After that 1st meeting Hilha and I have continued to attend meetings. And we joined at the right time! We got to give some input since they were planning the agenda for they year. The project for the year include addressing issues like trash, sex education, and cultural promotion activities, and engaging the youth of Bissau in community.
            This has been a really cool space because I have been able to meet new people, see what projects people are working on and put my Portuguese to the test. I have also been able to connect with other young folks in clubs like Global Shapers, who invited us to attend the Bissau Economic Forum in the beginning of February.

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