January 22, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 62  

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Exotic experiences: Western Rotoracts always help out

By Lorraine Forster
Gazette Staff

What clubs did you sign up for this year? In true Western fashion, most of you probably joined the Purple Spur; however, for those looking to have a great time while helping others, the Rotaract Club is the way to go.

Among their traditional volunteering opportunities, such as the Juvenile Diabetes Camp, reading and sports programs at various public schools and the residence volunteering program (to name a few), Rotaract offers two exceptional volunteering experiences that you can’t get at your local soup kitchen.

This year, the Rotaract Club will be participating in both a trip to Yale University as well as the Thailand Development Project. The Thailand Project will take place over the entire month of May, sending 17 Western Rotaract members on a journey to Bangkok.

“We’re going to work with what’s called the Human Development Foundation, it’s a foundation based in Bangkok,” explains Liz Sarbutt, Rotaract secretary and participant in the Thailand Project. “Their motto is ‘help the poor help themselves.’ We’re basically focused on helping young people with certain English skills,” she notes, adding the skills will help them further their education or seek employment.

The goal for the project is to, according to Sarbutt, “bring hope and independence to even more people in the slums of Klong Toey.” She notes that the Rotaract club is always looking to expand its scope, which led to this opportunity becoming available to Western students.

Along with this large undertaking, approximately 12 Rotaract members will be travelling to Yale over Reading Week. “We will be working with Columbus House, a charity program that helps the homeless and the near-recovering homeless in the New Haven community,” Sarbutt explains.

Sarbutt says students will be working in the shelters, volunteering in various positions and aiming to positively influence those in the shelter community. Volunteers will also have the opportunity to work with the YMCA and AIDS groups there to get an even broader experience of what the community’s needs are in the area, she says.

While the Western Rotaract Club immerses its members in conventional volunteering opportunities, she says the unique experiences really make the club stand out. Sarbutt also recommends the international volunteering projects of the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) and applying directly to the Human Development Foundation if you are looking for volunteering opportunities similar to those of Rotaract.

If you are interested in becoming a member of Rotaract, you can visit their website at http://rotaract.jerkmedia.net/ or www.rotary.org.



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