Sunrises with Rotary

Generally speaking, I consider myself a morning person. I like experiencing the progression of morning, afternoon and night and waking up has never been very arduous, as non-morning people presumedly experience. However, waking up at 5:00am is not something that is an entirely welcome idea – there are very few things that I would do that require waking up that early. Really there are just two: going for a run (it’s what I’ve been doing lately because of the grueling heat that blankets all of Lima beginning at 8:00am) and going to Rotary meetings.

When I would attend Rotary meetings during the school year (specifically the one that sponsored my home Interact club) I would wake up at approximately 5:00am, catch the sunrise as my mom drove down Highway 1, arrive around 10-15 minutes early for the 7:15am meeting (Shout out to Santa Cruz Sunrise Rotary!) and I would still have enough time to speed my way to school in time for my first period class. It was a routine that required a little extra effort in the morning, but was always so worth it.

For those who don’t know, during the latter half of high school I became really involved with Interact Club. Interact is a youth program of Rotary International, an international service organization that fosters collaboration between business and professional leaders to promote goodwill and peace throughout the world. During my involvement in Interact, I attained a plethora of leadership, networking and public speaking skills that I continue to utilize. Regarding my time and work in Peru, I have received unwavering support from the friends and mentors that I have met via Rotary. With all of that said, researching the Rotary clubs in Peru seemed like a no-brainer and deciding to visit at least one was a definite must. This was how I found myself waking up at 5:00am on Thursday morning to go visit the Rotary Club of Lima Sunrise.

After an hour bus ride and a short detour through San Isidro in a taxi, I finally arrived at the meeting place of Lima Sunrise. With about five minutes to spare before their 7:30am meeting time, I did a quick cell-phone-turned-mirror hair check and then knocked on the door. Upon entering, I clumsily introduced myself in some sort of combination of Spanish and English because I wasn’t sure which I was supposed to use, considering I read they were one (if not the only) English-speaking Rotary club in Lima. Nevertheless, introductions were made and after awkwardly figuring out how to socialize and internally remembering that I had handled moving to a foreign country with some form of ease and therefore, I could definitely handle meeting a few Rotarians of all people, I felt more comfortable. It was a small meeting of about eight members with one of them being the speaker for that day. Of the people in attendance, it was about a fifty-fifty split between Peruvians and expatriates. Everyone spoke English throughout the meeting, with an occasional phrase or two in Spanish.

One of my favorite moments was at the end, when the entire club recited the 4-Way Test together as a way of closing the meeting and I couldn’t help but join in. That moment as well as my visit as a whole, reminded me of how much I respect and enjoy the company of Rotarians and just how special it was be able to experience Rotary’s influential spirit while abroad.

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One of the activities planned by that morning’s speaker, Dario, was centered around his presentation about experiential learning. The challenge: create a tower as tall as possible with a bag of marshmallows and spaghetti, in under 15 minutes. (A winner was not announced, but I think that we won.)

Although it may seem like I went to visit Lima Sunrise just for funsies, I did go with more professional intentions. The purposes for my visit were to learn more about Rotary in Peru and to share my experiences regarding of youth international service, a theme that I will be addressing as a speaker at Santa Cruz Sunrise Rotary when I return to California. Throughout my time in Peru and even beforehand, I’ve learned how important it is to build a network of connections that can help you in the future. Visiting Lima Sunrise was a big first step for me in my mission of learning how to navigate the expansive and important skill of networking. Tomorrow morning I will be waking up to my alarm once again at that ever-special time of 5:00am so that I can attend a leadership workshop that is being hosted by Rotary and Rotaract representatives. Undoubtedly it’ll be an adventure and I will be sure to share it with everyone as soon as I am able. Until then, I should probably get some sleep.