Our international spring service project:
Identifying and meeting the physical needs of the international community is one of the main guiding principles of Rotaract. Each year, Rotaract Club of Columbia University works to help communities in other countries, fundraising and collecting supplies to send abroad. The year's international efforts are aimed toward a culmination in which the members of Rotaract at Columbia University travel on a mission to provide hands-on assistance to the overseas communities.
In accordance with Rotarian principles, the International Service Committee strives to build international understanding, goodwill, and peace on a global basis. Each year we will coordinate at least one internationally-focused service project or donation drive. These projects depend on the skills, effort and time donated by our general and executive members. Financial support to initiate these efforts has been provided in part by our own fundraising activities and by private donations and matching gifts of Rotarians. For this support - moral and fiscal - we are exceedingly grateful.
2010: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
On March 13th, 17 of us from the Rotaract Club of Columbia University arrived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After a bus ride full of the beautiful scenery of the countryside, we arrived in Campos dos Goytacazes and met our welcoming host families. That night, we met the members of the local Rotary and Rotaract clubs at a local open-air restaurant. The next day we took a riverboat cruise where we learned about the environment and ecology of Brazil and the local region from tour guides. We also enjoyed delicious Brazilian food with the courtesy of the local city hall.
Monday, March 15th, was our first day working at the local school. We helped them transfer to a new building and set-up furniture, beds, and other school supplies in the new location. That night we had a group barbecue at the Rotary Club and learnt about the Rotary clubs in Brazil and their projects. The next day, the playground arrived and we spent the day putting the playground together and moving it into the schoolyard.
Even though the playground seemed so harmlessly cute, it took us quite some effort to assemble the different parts together. Some of our volunteers even had to jump on the toys to make sure they were secure enough for the kids. That night, we celebrated the opening of the playground with representatives of the local government and the Rotary club and played with the kids at the playground for the first time. On our third day, one volunteer Lauren Kelly, designed a mural for the wall of the playground, and we spent the morning painting the mural. We also visited one of the local universities in Campos and got a tour of their research facilities.
2009: Lima, Peru
During spring break 2009, members of Rotaract traveled to Lima, Peru for their annual international service trip. Once they arrived, they got straight to work at the "Reina de Los Angeles" school in the region of Pachacamaca. Alongside local Rotary members, Rotaract worked to rebuild a roof, plant trees and flowers, and paint a mural for the schoolchildren. Through the long-lasting relationships that formed from interaction with the children, teachers, and officers of Lima's different Rotary clubs, Rotaract volunteers did not just leave their impact on Lima, but left impacted.