Thank you, Rotary District 7930, for sharing my story about my experience with Rotary and paying it forward through Rotaract:
My love affair with Rotary started when I was a junior in high school and was selected by the Bulgarian-American Fulbright Commission for their United States Achievers Program. One of the participants told me about Interact during the break of a preparation course for applying to U.S. colleges and inspired me to start my high school’s first ever Interact Club, which I ran successfully with my co-president and about 10 members for a year until I graduated.
I got a scholarship to attend a college in Massachusetts and moved from my small town of Septemvri, Bulgaria. After several flights, I found myself in the USA on 17 August 2009. The moment I landed at Boston Logan Airport symbolized my departure from a world that was familiar and comfortable; I realized I had left my family, homeland, and culture behind yet to discover a whole new community, country, and new friends.
Within the first few days of my arrival in Massachusetts, I was immediately accepted, blanketed in warmth and kindness from the Rotary District 7930 community. My 3.5 years in college were exceptionally amazing because of everyone in Rotary who welcomed me, thanks to a Rotarian from a local Rotary Club. I would’ve been lost without her, and I felt so grateful for having her in my life.
Ever since then, I’ve wanted to return the same sentiment in some way. I participated in Rotaract throughout college and have been an active member of Boston Rotaract for the past two years.
I became a Rotaractor because I believe collaboration towards a common goal leads to stronger ties within communities, promotes cultural and economic advancement. Rotaract has provided me with the opportunity to identify with people whether they are from Bulgaria, the EU, the United States, Asia, Latin America, Africa, or anywhere in between. As a result, I have friends of different ethnic and/or social backgrounds and have been able to taste the richness of their cultures, while being part of a group of young people genuinely excited to volunteer and provide service above self.But still, I felt something was missing. I wanted to pay it forward but was unsure how.
This year I decided to challenge myself with the goal of running four half marathons in the summer and participating in the Chicago Marathon in October. While running the distance of over 120 km, I will be raising money to support Teach for Bulgaria, an organization very dear to my heart because of their mission – quality education for every child, regardless of where they live or what their socioeconomic status is.
I already ran two half marathons, I have 86 km left! I’ve raised $1,161 of my goal of $5,000 by the end of October in support of this organization.
By supporting Teach for Bulgaria’s cause I want to make sure that more students are going to have role models like the Rotarian who was also a teacher and provided a loving heart when I needed it the most, so that they can help them develop their potential, regardless of where they live or where they come from, to help them gain the confidence to believe they are capable of anything. This is my way of paying it forward to her and Rotary.
I believe that only by strengthening the ties which unite us in Rotary, we are capable of transforming an entire community and can together make a difference by contributing to every child’s access to quality education in Bulgaria; quality education which leads to a functioning economy and a strong society. I believe in Service Above Self: it’s easier to make a positive change when you have the world of Rotary working together.
I’ve raised $1,161 of my goal of $5,000 by the end of October in support of Teach for Bulgaria.
You can support my effort by donating to my GlobalGiving fundraiser or sharing the campaign on social media with your network.