Written by Jenny Hays
Voy a reir, voy a bailar. (I’m going to laugh, I’m going to dance). These are the opening lyrics to the song “Vivir mi Vida” by Latin superstar Marc Anthony. It will forever remind me of….Germany?!?
“Vivir mi Vida” (translated to “Live my Life” in English) played throughout Rotaract Germantrip. We listened to the song in our minivans while crisscrossing the autobahn, and at the many impromptu dance parties we had all over Germany. “Vivir mi Vida” will always take me back to laughing, dancing and LIVING that I experienced while exploring Germany with amazing people.
Rotaract Germantrip is one of many Rotaract roundtrips offered throughout the world designed to foster international fellowship and cross-cultural exchange. Germantrip is a ten-day tour of Germany, with ten participants from ten different countries. I represented the United States and the other nine Rotaractors hailed from Argentina, Australia, Canada, India, Mexico, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, and Ukraine.
From the application process to the final goodbyes, the trip was overseen by a committee of Rotaract members from clubs throughout Germany. Five of these amazing German Rotaractors travelled with us and acted as our drivers, tour guides, translators, and super heroes in general. They took ten days away from their families, friends, jobs, and universities to show us around their country. The organizers took great care of us- they became our temporary mom, dad, and uncles. Each one of the organizers exemplified servant leadership that would have made Rotary International proud.
Thanks to Germantirp, I was able to build friendships all across the world! I learned something from each and every one of the organizers and participants, whether it was about life in their country or how their Rotaract clubs functioned. I learned that throughout the world, many Rotaract clubs face similar challenges related to recruitment, retention, and building relationships with Rotary clubs. I got to learn about practices that have worked for some of these clubs and hope to implement them in my Rotaract club.
The theme of the trip was Wanderlust, and it totally lived up to its name! We travelled over 3,500 kilometers (~2,200 miles) across Germany in two vans. (As the only American, I got a crash course in the metric system). We started and ended in Frankfurt, visiting a different city every day, including Aachen, Wilhelmshaven, Hamburg, Berlin, Bad Hersfeld, Bamberg, Munich, and Heidelberg.
We met with Rotaract clubs in each city, and I was overwhelmed by the warm welcome that we received from every member. They invited us to their club meetings, hosted parties, shared meals with us, planned activities to showcase their cities, and gave us lodging in their homes. Dozens of people put in so much effort to make Germantrip successful, and I will be forever grateful to everyone who made this experience possible.
For more information on Rotaract Germantrip, please visit http://germantrip.rotaract.de/