Message From DG Krishnan Chittur - March 2019
This is the 51st anniversary of the Rotaract, yet another of Rotary’s phenomenal success stories.  From the first Rotaract Club chartered in 1968 in North Carolina, Rotaract is now a worldwide movement with 250,792 Rotaractors in 10,904 Clubs in 184 countries.  In many places, Rotaract has been so successful in harnessing the energy and passion of youth that Rotaractors have their own District Conference!
Rotaractors have made (and continue to make) significant meaningful contributions to advancing Rotary ideals.  Enabling HIV infected women sell their products online.  Running a Model United Nations to address contemporary international issues.  Even running their own international exchange programs.  In the process, Rotaractors also develop personally and professionally:  building leadership skills and organizational abilities.
I have fond memories of Rotaract.  I joined Rotaract in 1972 in India with some friends, all passionate about social justice and community service.  That Rotaract Club became the most vibrant club that I have ever known.  From holding sleepy meetings with lackadaisical speakers and meaningless formalities every 15 days, we started holding dynamic, exciting meetings every week.  Every meeting had animated discussions amongst engaged members on burning topics of the day ‑ whether with or without a guest speaker.  What an exercise in critical thinking, hone speaking skills, and learning basics of persuasion.  Attendance was never a problem: friends didn’t need an “incentive” to meet!  Projects?  Whenever any of us saw a need!  Many were “spur of the moment” projects:  People on the lookout for “doing good” find projects all the time, everywhere! The local playground needed to be cleaned up?  Rotaract Project:  We immediately met with the local councilman, got whatever help we could from the municipality, and . . . just cleaned up that playground!  Sixteen of us went to the Rotaract District Conference, despite the Conference being at a place which was an overnight journey!  Not surprisingly, we won the “best participation” award in that Conference!
One remarkable feature was the consistent interaction and salubrious relationship we had with our sponsoring Rotary Club.  That Rotary Club had a 3 member liaison committee, and its chair attended our meetings every week.  He was a quiet presence, guiding us when needed but never overwhelming us with unwanted advice.  It was the healthy relationship of a parent and an adult child.  We had a standing invitation to attend the Rotary Club’s weekly meeting ‑ which many of us took advantage of (no meals, only coffee and snacks).  Thereby, many Rotaractors built personal relationships with Rotarians.  Indeed, our involvement with that Club was so strong that when that Rotary Club had an office‑bearer’s election, some candidates told us, “I wish you guys had a vote!  You deserve it more than many others here who are members only in name!”  The relationship was symbiotic, and both Clubs benefitted.  We provided manpower and helped in Rotary projects, and the Rotarians were a “go to” for us whenever we needed anything (tip:  the Rotary rolodex was our first resort for fundraising!).  And some Rotaractors even found career openings!
Three important lessons stand out, which are equally applicable to Rotary, Rotaract, and Interact Clubs.  First, a vibrant Club requires enthusiastic members.  To paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nothing worthwhile was ever done without enthusiasm.   A vibrant Club requires a core of members enthusiastic about the Club and its mission.
Second, friendships ‑ personal relationships ‑ are the cementing force of our clubs.  That’s what keep members involved and interested.  Nothing to beat a group of friends passionately committed to a cause.  They think alike on some important issues, that’s why they are friends.  They don’t need rewards to meet; they look for excuses to spend time with each other!  And their passionate commitment will keep generating new ideas, new projects, and new ventures for the Club: always on the move!
Third, the continued, persistent, healthy involvement of the sponsoring Rotary in the Rotaract/Interact Club is imperative.  It’s not enough to trumpet that you “sponsored” a Rotaract; it’s a lot more important to be thereFailure to do so is the primary reason for the closure of many a Rotaract/Interact Club.  Your personal presence conveys that you care.  It also ensures adherence to Rotary ideals, guides systematic development of leadership skills, and learning proper meeting protocols.  It also lets Rotary “grow” on Rotaractors.  Typically, a new Club and new members don’t even know Rotary meeting protocols, or what to do or how.  And you don’t want (or need) to bore everyone with endless “training” sessions.  They’ll learn as they do; OJT ‑ on the job training. 
So let’s celebrate our Rotaractors and Interactors, offer guidance and help them with projects when needed, but always be there for them!  That’s how we ensure that they’ll carry the Rotary torch forward!
Rtn. Kris Chittur
District Governor