Second-year Bachelor in International Relations student and president of IE Rotaract Segovia, Donovan Schar Davis, attended the 3-day Rotary International conference in Ávila this past week. He proudly represented IE Rotaract Segovia to the greater Rotary District for the first time since its creation in 2018.
Rotary International is a philanthropic organization with over 46,000 clubs and 1.4 million individual members globally. The group works to directly improve the communities that each member club is based in and give back to the world through its extensive network.
Rotaract International was created in 1968 to introduce university-aged students to the Rotary. In 2018, IE Rotaract Segovia was established by a handful of inspired IE University students. Since then, our club has been growing and now plays a part in IE Campus Life.
Bringing IE Rotaract Segovia into Rotary International
Upon the club’s creation, we began the process of registering as an official Rotary International Club. Due to several challenges and other delays brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, we did not become an official Rotaract Club until the spring semester of 2021.
As the first club president since its officialization, my top priority has been to facilitate our interaction with the greater Rotary community both in Spain and abroad. After two years of remote events and Zoom meetings, Rotary España and Rotary Distrito 2201 were finally able to host an in-person assembly of all partner Rotary and Rotaract Clubs across Spain.
These conferences are a pillar of Rotary International as they allow club members to meet, discuss, and collaborate on upcoming projects. After numerous months apart, club members from Tenerife, Madrid, Salamanca and Segovia finally reconnected in Ávila from March 11 to 13, 2022.
The Ávila conference begins
I was absolutely terrified before this meeting. I was excited to meet Rotarians and explore how IE Rotaract Segovia could further integrate into the Rotary España community but didn’t know what to expect. This was my first Rotary conference after all, let alone as a club president! Nonetheless, I set my worries aside and took a bus from Segovia to Ávila the night before the conference began. I made sure to practice my Spanish as much as possible along the way.
Upon arriving at the event on Friday morning, I quickly came to realize that it was quite obvious that I was a foreigner. However, everyone was more than patient with me in spite of the occasional language barrier. Despite my accent, not knowing some words, and certainly messing up my grammar, Rotarians and Rotaracters alike were eager to speak with me. I met so many friendly faces in a matter of minutes. Even though I was the only foreigner, I began feeling less and less out-of-place in a matter of minutes.
After some networking, the conference officially began. Sessions generally consisted of updates and presentations from various clubs around the country, and I learned about ongoing projects that IE Rotaract Segovia could be part of. I also learned how to directly improve the functionality of my club. My interest remained piqued well after the sessions had concluded.
IE Rotaract Segovia makes a splash
Apart from these informative sessions, the three-day conference also included private meetings amongst Rotaracters. There were many lunches, dinners and even late-night drinks. Despite the fact that IE Rotaract Segovia had never been to one of these conventions, our opinions and participation were always encouraged. I was excited when I came to the realization that this conference marked the beginning of greater projects for our club, and that we could expect added support from Rotarians across the country.
All said and done, my weekend away in Ávila was both fun and enriching. I was able to connect with fellow Rotarians and discuss my concerns and hopes for our club. Moreover, I received thoughtful feedback that left me feeling more confident in my position as club president. I also felt proud that I was able to achieve the goal of establishing our club as an official Rotary España partner. After years of effort, all of our hard work finally paid off, and I was honored to showcase that effort at the event.
The future of IE Rotaract Club
Leaving Ávila, I felt reassured that big things are in store for our club and the greater Rotarian community. I was inspired by the projects and passion demonstrated by so many clubs. I was eager to support some and even create more of our own. As a whole, my experience demonstrated the importance of grabbing every opportunity. Though I was initially scared of going to the conference, I am grateful for the opportunity and the connections that now exist because of it. I’m looking forward to many more conferences, projects, uncomfortable situations and improvements to local and global communities alike. Here’s to a great second half of the Rotary year, with much more collaboration to come.