Rotaract is a program of Rotary International. Rotaract Clubs work under the guidance of their local Rotary Club, and take their name from a combination of the words Rotary and action. The first officially chartered Rotaract Club was in North Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1968, but clubs of young people associated in service with local Rotary Clubs had existed for several years in India and Europe.
Today, there are some 155,000 members in more than 6,700 Rotaract Clubs around the world. Clubs draw members from the community or are organized as an extracurricular activity for college students. Rotaractors should be of good standing and reputation in their communities.
Rotaract Clubs conduct formal meetings, usually every two weeks, which feature speakers, tours of local businesses, cultural activities, discussions, and visits to other clubs. Rotaractors utilize weekends for service project work, social events, and professional and leadership development workshops.
Every Rotaract Club is part of a district Rotaract organization, run by elected representatives with support from sponsoring Rotarians. The district organization plans regional conferences, develops regional projects, holds club leadership training programs, and sponsors special events to strengthen the bond among clubs.
Rotaract functions internationally through a committee of Rotaractors and Rotarians. This committee works with Rotary International to plan an annual day-long forum held prior to the Rotary international convention. This event offers Rotaractors from all over the world the chance to meet, discuss issues of mutual interest, and develop friendships based on international goodwill and understanding. Every three years Rotaractors conduct another international meeting called Interota, named from the words international and Rotaract.
The Rotaract Club of Rishra, West Bengal, India, sponsored a head start program for poor children entering school. Rotaractors first interviewed families of a nearby slum area and then conducted weekly classes, complete with worksheets, pencils and a hot lunch. Students were introduced to the alphabet, numbers and basic spelling, as well as manners, hygiene and the national anthem of India. For fun and physical education, the Rotaractors organized a sports day with prizes for the winners and took children on local field trips. At the end of the year the club awarded scholarships to the most promising students. Their effort has developed into an ongoing project.
Members of the Rotaract Club of Lock Haven University, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., contacted a Rotarian in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, who identified schools, orphanages, and foster homes most in need of assistance after the Hurricane Hugo disaster. The Rotaractors organized a community-wide fundraising project, raising several thousand dollars. The president of the Rotary Club in St. Thomas pledged to organize a Rotaract Club in his district after receiving the relief funds.
The Rotaract Club of Vallejo, Mexico, combined efforts with its local Rotary Club to construct a recreational activities facility for terminally ill children, in hopes of brightening their lives. The Rotaract Club listed the project with the Rotary International World Community Service Projects Exchange List, prompting Rotarians from the United States to provide the funding for its final construction.
Leadership and Professional Development
Rotaract Clubs organize functions to explore leadership development
and career decisions. These include communication and public speaking
seminars; talks on effective club administration, training programs for
club officers, workshops that explore ways to organize and promote club
projects, vocational counseling and career planning programs, and
conferences on business ethics.
The Rotaract Club of Ealing, Middlesex, England, organized a "Careers Evening' for graduating senior club members, providing a complete overview of each Rotaractors profession. Representatives of various firms spoke on current job trends and opportunities, followed by a question and answer session. Afterward Rotaractors socialized with the business and professional leaders.
The Rotaract Club of Kota North, Rajasthan, India, found that many club members were interested in learning how to start a business to enter into international trade. Rotaractors worked with the Industrial Development Bank of India and the Small Industries Service Institute to identify important topics and high calibre speakers. These topics were then covered in a six week course taught by specialists in bank management, taxes, engineering, district industry, psychology and industry. Rotarians from the sponsoring club were asked to serve as resource people for their particular fields.
Rotaractors promote international understanding and goodwill by
establishing a worldwide network of friends.
The Rotaract and Rotary Clubs of Zurich and Lugano, Switzerland, organized a two week international camp to celebrate the 700th anniversary of Switzerland. Rotaractors from some 20 countries participated. The group toured such sites as Swiss banks and chocolate factories. While there, the group made lifelong friends and had ample opportunity to discuss future international service projects. Belgian and Norwegian Rotaractors and those from Japan and Australia also sponsor exchanges each year.
The Rotaract Club of Istanbul, Turkey, combined a social event with a fundraiser to recruit new members while raising money for a children's hospital. The club scheduled an elaborate fashion show, dinner and dance at the most popular night spot in Istanbul. The Rotaractors worked with the sponsoring Rotary Club, prompting two major companies to assist in the event's promotion. In one evening the group raised more than US$2,000.