Humans of Cal Rotaract

Humans of Cal Rotaract is a project and platform where our members get to share their stories and their service passions with us. Cal Rotaract is one of the largest service clubs on the UC Berkeley campus, but we want to be able to connect with our members in a meaningful way. Humans of Cal Rotaract is a project not only meant to feature new and returning members, but to voice our members’ commitment to service, leadership, and more! Our members come from so many different places around the world, but have come to Cal Rotaract with a commitment to giving back to their community. These are a few of their stories.
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Humans of Cal Rotaract- Spring 2018

What was your favorite memory from Rotaract?

“My favorite memory in Rotaract definitely came about sometime during semester banquet in the Fall of  2016. That was just my first semester as an intern… seeing everything coming together, seeing everyone coming back to celebrate our accomplishments for that semester. That was also the first time that there was a big event where people could see my video editing, which was nice. People came up to me afterward saying that I upped the ante with video editing which was a nice thing to hear. It is always good to feed my ego… and then becoming historian. Oh, and getting member of the semester even though I didn’t sign into anything.”

Do you have any funny stories from Rotaract that you would like to share?

“Peace Grove. Freshman year, fall semester… we were going through these big cement blocks, so we had to lift them, to level them out. [Allie: “You are distracting from my job.”] We were levelling stuff, and then we came to this one part… I was standing over the hole kind of spread-legged, and then I was lifting the cement block, but what I didn’t realize is that in that moment I actually split my pants. You hear about it in TV shows and all that stuff. You think it wouldn’t actually happen, but… So I tied my sweatshirt around my hips and then kept doing service above self.”

Do you believe in love at first sight? Have you ever met someone who thought they had fell in love at first sight?

“I think I wrote a Facebook post about this. There’s a lot of good writing on there… Sometimes. Personally, I’d say it’s possible. But in our generation, it is typically confused with things such as lust or, sort of more romanticized notions of attraction. Base answer is that it is a possibility. A more nuanced answer: I’d say it’s rare. It’s a complicated answer.

“I’m more of a cynic when it comes to relationships because I see my friends and then I immediately jump to conclusions that: oh, it’s not going to work out… But there are cases where I see that it does work out. I’m trying to think of a case where it worked out.

Well, personally, I’ve never had a case of love at first sight, or I can’t guarantee that I’ve ever experienced love because I’m a person who tends to suppress my emotions. Not an emotional person as you can tell from my facial expressions. I don’t know how to answer these questions.

In 6th grade marching band, there was this one person I’ll say it as that I took an interest to. But I knew them technically back in fourth grade because they went to my Chinese school. My interests back then were more so in Pokémon and video games so I wasn’t at that maturity in which I felt the need to enter those interdependent relationships. One of the faults of our generation is that we tend to throw around love loosely, and I don’t use the word as loosely. So love for me, it is an experience that is derived with time.”

Austin Li, Sophomore

What was your favorite memory from Rotaract?

That’s a hard one because I feel like every Rotaract memory is my favorite. Okay so, we had the fire trails hike for the families and immediately after my family we went to get food. We couldn’t eat at the restaurant because it was busy and so we ended up going to Eric B.’s apartment. It was my first time being around a lot of Rotaract people because I was new and I was nervous because families are forever now, and I was like, nervous… are they gonna like me? But it ended up being a really good night. We just talked and talked and it made me feel very bonded and really welcome. It gave me something to look forward to at every single meeting because I knew I was going to get to see my family again.

Do you have any funny stories from Rotaract that you would like to share?

It’s funny to see Christine so into her Local Committee because a lot of Rotaract people are on our floor. My favorite thing is to have her talk about Rotaract and have seven people in the hall open their doors and be like, “okay yeah, I’m going”.

Do you believe in love at first sight?

That’s a very interesting question. According to my Dad, it exists. He met my Mom and the moment he saw her he just knew. I would like to believe in it. I think it can exist. I believe it is very rare and those who experience it are very lucky… but I’m not sure if its a common thing… probably not.

Lili GutierrezLopez, Freshman

What do you think makes Rotaract unique?

I think everyone is driven towards the same goal of community service. A lot of clubs have some community service but this club serves someone at every event and there’s a lot of variety in the types of projects.

What committee(s) are you a part of, and why did you decide to join it?

Local Committee because I wanted to help the community around me more. It’s fun because I get to go to parts of Berkeley that I’ve never been to. I really liked the campus tours because I got to talk to a middle schooller and she was really interested and already thinking about college a lot. I really enjoyed being able to help answer her questions.

What is your music vibe?

I usually listen to other people’s playlists. I like the Lumineers and I would probably go see them in concert. I like upbeat but not majorly upbeat music, generally happy music. My current favorite song is Catch and Release by Matt Simons.

-Elizabeth Kouch | Freshman

“What do you think makes Rotaract unique?”

“Rotaract is unique because it has so much going on that there is something for everyone, and thus it can bring together people of so many different backgrounds, different interests, and different majors. Yet we all share one thing in common: our passion for community service and our dedication to living with the ideology of “service above self”.

As an EECS major, I feel that without having Rotaract, I might’ve stayed in Berkeley’s CS bubble and not really had as much of a chance to interact with the broader Berkeley community. I decided to join Rotaract partially because I was tired of all the CS clubs that I had tried out my first semester of college and wanted to try something new… something that definitely was not technical… but somewhere where I could feel like I could still make an impact

and work towards making the world a better place. Rotaract was able to give me that opportunity, to be able to work for local initiatives like homeless shelters and city clean-up, think about international issues like polio and the Syrian Refugee crisis, influence the lives of high schoolers (Kevin!), and learn about how otherwises take service into their adult lives.

As we all end up finding out, the biggest impact of this organization on our lives is the friendships and experiences we gain from being part of the Rotaract community. I honestly would not have stayed if not for the wonderful, welcoming, and caring people that you find everywhere in Rotaract, and their clear dedication to making the world a better place, one Saturday morning 8am service event at a time.”

“What is your music vibe?”

“I’m not too big of a person on music, but most of the times I listen to pop and EDM. It’s kind of like I randomly search around for a good song or good album and then put it on repeat until I get bored of it. Then I let Spotify or Pandora or Youtube autoplay keep on running until I hear anything song or artist that I really like and then keep listening to that. Recently I’ve been listening to 3LAU’s Ultraviolet album, so yeah I guess I would like to go to a concert for that!”

-Dennis Tan | Senior

What was your first impression of your family? What are you looking forward to with them?

Once I found out who was in my family and who could potentially be in my family I was really relieved and happy I got them [Fred’s]. They were so nice and friendly. I think they were the first people to talk to, or at least the first officers I became friends with so I was really glad I got them as parents. I really just look forward to building that kind of family bond here at school because I’m so far away from my actual family.

What is the most interesting niche Facebook group you are in?

I don’t join that many groups because I don’t use social media often… I’m mostly in informative groups like Free & For Sale. I guess Overheard and the meme page or the weirdest. Man, I don’t have a life.

-Kelly Lam | Freshman

If you could host your own service event, what would it be?

I would build a playground. I did that once with the Rotary in my town and it was a lot of fun. I’ve done a lot of service events to clean up, but I think playgrounds add a lot to the people you’re trying to help. Kids will be using it for years to come, and I had a hand in making that. And they’re fun, ya know. Mostly just bring the most joy to whoever you’re trying to help.

What is the most interesting niche Facebook group you are in?

Nothing super impressive, but there’s a community news Facebook where they talk smack and they always post warrant Wednesdays for who ever got arrested in our time and one time the person who they were on the lookout for commented on the post and a cop replied to it. Other than that, I used to be in a goat Facebook page, but not for goats, for people who have goats.

Sam Perkins | Freshman

What was your favorite memory from Rotaract?

“Surprisingly enough, my favorite memory from Rotaract so far isn’t a big event like stayover or volunteering for a cause close to my heart, even though I could go on for days about how much I love those experiences as well. For me, my favorite moment happened after the recent Fire Trails Social when my family group had a chance to connect and get to know each other better. After searching far and wide for a suitable restaurant for dinner, we went back to an apartment to eat, play meme-filled games, and thoroughly interrogate each person with a (somewhat friendly) game of hot seat. Cramped into a living room with music playing in the background, all of us were able to forget any worries of schoolwork or personal lives for a moment as we took the time to- simply put, talk. I felt extremely comfortable sharing bits and pieces of myself with others, and I loved being able to hear about other people’s lives as well as we all tried to get to know each other better. I find this type of connection to be quite special, and I’m so thankful to have been able to share it with the wonderful members of the Mac-Oscar Family.”

What is your theme song?

“Although I’m tempted to choose from some of my favorite songs by The Beatles, my theme song would be “Come on Eileen” by Dexys Midnight Runners. This answer isn’t based of the lyrics and content of the song; rather, this selection is based on how the song makes people feel. Whenever “Come on Eileen” plays, I can’t help but feel a sudden urge to drop everything I’m doing and dance like I’m back in elementary school putting on a house-held performance for my parents. The song is electric, catchy, and filled with fantastic moments to belt out dramatic singing notes that truly only belong within the confines of my shower. While listening to the song, I don’t care about how I look or how horrible my singing is, as I’m far too busy dramatically serenading the poor person that happens to be sitting next to me. The song truly captures my chaotic mind and overly-excited personality with a blasting energy that never fails to brighten my day.”

-Mikayla Tran | Freshman

What is your favorite memory from Rotaract?

“I think the Take to the Hills event on Saturday — it’s one of the major activities I did with Rotaract so far. Not only was it fun to do service but after, everyone who volunteered, we all had brunch together at Clark Kerr. We were talking about the [Myers-Briggs] personality test, and I figured that a lot of Rotaract people are similar. Not only did we see that through the personality test, but we talked about how even if we’re playing competitive games or crossing the line sometimes, it’s still controlled, sweet, and really cute. That made me feel like Rotaract people are very similar to each other in that we all think about how other people feel and are really kind toward everyone. Everyone is always trying to help each other. For example, on the second General Meeting, as soon as I walked into the room, I was welcomed by Justin. He asked me what my name was, and introduced me to a ton of people. It’s hard to find that kind of caring environment in some other clubs!”


What is your theme character and why?

“My theme movie character is the fox from Zootopia. Like Nick, I like fun stuff, I’m really naughty sometimes, but I care about my friends, and I care about justice. Also, I’m really playful, and I have a lot of emotions and facial expressions as him too!”

Leo Huang | Freshman

What committee are you a part of, and why did you decide to join it?

“Predominantly, I have been in International Committee. A reason is that it doesn’t require me to devote a gigantic space of my time. But also a lot of the stuff that IC has done is impactful. Even though I enjoy being able to see the impact that is done directly, like Local Committee does, knowing that people outside of our country might need more help than people here. Knowing that, and being able to help them, either through fundraising or sending stuff over, always makes me happy that I can actually help people that I don’t necessarily see. One project that was interesting was when we helped fundraise to support different girls in poor regions last semester. We sent money and different gifts over, and I thought that was interesting — that we were able to help them a little bit here and there, and do some good.”

What is your favorite meme?

“Something that has grown on me just because it’s kind of funny is that red background with the “B.” It’s so random, but surprisingly hilarious when it comes up and doesn’t make sense. That, and the “sad reacts only” comment. I’ve kind of taken that to heart more than I should have.

Stone Chen | Sophmore

Which service event was your favorite and why?

“I’m not sure if this is considered a service event, but my favorite event over the course of the semester was the Interact Committee’s Stayover. It was awesome getting to know the interactors, and I felt like I was able to get closer to a lot of fellow rotaractors as well. Before the stayover I felt like I wasn’t super connected to Rotaract yet. After the stayover I felt I had reaffirmed my commitment to service, and felt so lucky that I was able to be at Cal.”

What is your favorite meme?

“Oh my gosh, there are too many to think about. My favorite meme is probably the white guy blinking gif though! Every time I look at the gif I can’t help but burst into laughter. I feel like it’s one of those gifs that you can use to react to anything with.”

Fallon Funseth | Freshman

“What was your favorite memory from Rotaract?”

“I have two favorite memories from Rotaract! The first one was at Vida Warehouse, and it was such a simple but effective service project that shows how such small actions can have an international impact. My other favorite (non-service) memory was our family social to San Francisco. I love how such a variety of people can all come together and be friends; I was never bored throughout the day. Although this wasn’t a service event, I still believe it showcased the sense of community that service events have.”

“What emoji describes you the most?”

The emoji that describes me the most is because I’m constantly tired. During the first week back here at Cal, I have taken a nap every day so far. 8 am’s are definitely taking their toll on me!

Zarah Maroof | Freshman


What is your relationship to service?

“I have always tried to get involved in service because I personally believe that if one is not making a positive impact on others, there is no real point to living. In elementary school, my service was through serving in student government. I wanted to be able to make an impact on the school by creating fun events for students and to educated people about recycling and protecting the environment. In high school, I got involved working with organizations. I volunteered for the Multiple Sclerosis Society, Habitat for Humanity, and the Union Station Homeless Services. When I went to Cal, I did not join a service organization and I felt that there was something missing in my life. So my Sophomore year, I joined Rotaract and finally felt like I was doing something important with my life.”

What emoji describes you the most?

“The crying laughing face emoji probably describes me the most. It is my most frequently used one, sometimes three times in a row, and it really shows my personality. I love making jokes and being around funny people. Although it is important to be serious in certain times, there is always a good time and reason to laugh.”

Kevin Beck, | Sophmore

Humans of Cal Rotaract – Fall 2017

“Do you have any favorite memories from Rotaract that you would like to share?”

“One of my favorite memories of Rotaract so far is definitely running around campus with my family during the Family Scavenger Hunt. Even though we were panicking and running around, desperately lost in the maze of Dwinelle, and had to use our phone flashlights so we could take pictures in the dark, all of that added up into a super fun team bonding experience that I know I’ll look back and smile on. Shoutout to FAMtastic 4!”

-Jessica Cheng, Freshman

 “What is one funny story/favorite memory from Rotaract that you would like to share?”

“My favorite memory from Rotaract was the first meeting that I ever  attended in the club. Since I come from a town that had strict ethnic niches among the communities, not very many strangers would ever socialize with each other… As such, when I went to Rotaract, I imagined it would follow a similar pattern. However, the instant I set foot in the room, I was greeted with handshakes and smiles from all kinds of people. I was bombarded with questions and introductions. Even the atmosphere was completely different- it was filled with enthusiasm and passion- something I had not felt in the clubs at high school. I was honestly stunned by how extroverted everyone in the club seemed. Even the officers of the club took the time to introduce themselves to every new member and have small chat. At that moment, I knew I had found a community where bonds between members truly existed and I wanted to be a part of it.”
-Eric Li, Junior

“Tell us your Rotaract Story.”

“I joined Interact my Sophomore year of high school, but it wasn’t until I attended RYLA, a summer camp hosted by Rotary, that I really started to appreciate service as a way to be part of something bigger than myself.  Going into RYLA, I didn’t expect much more than your typical leadership seminar. Even though I wasn’t particularly excited in the beginning, I can safely say it was the best week of my life… We climbed a forty-foot tall rope course and – much to my dismay – jumped off the tops. We all became superheroes for a night. We learned how to fish. Through it all, I made great friends and amazing connections that have lasted to this day.  When I came back from RYLA, I had a greater appreciation for the Rotary community and felt connected to service more than ever before. It kept me motivated as president of Interact throughout my Senior year, and is the reason I plan on joining Rotary once my time in Rotaract is over. If you know anyone who’s in their junior year of high school, encourage them to go – it’s a great program.”

-Michael Quiroz, Freshman

“Do you have any funny stories from Rotaract that you would like to share?”
“Oh man, where do I start? I mean, I remember one time in freshmen year we had the community service event where we were fixing up gardens. I think it was one garden in Oakland. And afterwards, what we did was we went to Zachary’s and we were telling funny stories. We always like to tell funny stories to make each other laugh. One story we were telling was how there was a guy who remembered telling a girl to get this piece of lint, but when she grabbed it, it was actually a spider! So when he mentioned that she basically grabbed a spider, everyone was so freaked out and disgusted that they screamed in the restaurant; everybody was looking at us.”

“Wait, so did you all just group-scream?”

“Basically. Well, I didn’t scream, but I was pretty shocked.”

-Flint Batterton, Cal Rotaract Alumni, Graduate

“What is your relationship to service?”

“I would say it’s been a lifelong commitment. I’ve always been active in volunteering, partly because when I was very young my mom had depression, so for our family, giving back to the community was a way for us to get over the sadness. I’ve been to soup kitchens, given out food to the homeless, and taught refugees and indigenous tribes from Malaysia. I’ve also been to the very rural parts of Malaysia and helped them build better water systems, as well as helped set up a library in Nepal. When I was in high school, we didn’t have a Rotaract or Interact club, so I kind of started my own volunteering club. We’ve been to orphanages, donated televisions to the poor, and things like that.”

-Joanne Nie Naik, Freshman

“Why were you interested in joining Local or International Committee?”

“Local and International Committee interested me the most. I know with Local Committee you can have a very immediate effect on your local community, while with International you can have a really strong effect worldwide. I’ve been taking a Global Poverty class and it really amazes me how help that we can send can really change someone’s life, even if it’s not through a big corporation. Even sending something like medicine or books can really change someone’s life for the better.”
-Daniel Vazquez, Junior

What is your relationship to service?”

“In high school, I used to perform classical music for retirement homes in New Orleans. Looking back, playing the piano for the elderly is one of my fondest memories; I remember going through Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 48 No. 1, hearing the crinkle of cough drop wrappers and humming from the audience, and a contented sigh from Ms. Marjorie Gehl, my coordinator and lifelong friend, as this was her favorite work. Sharing an integral part of myself with other people, delighting in one other’s presence, and being drawn together through a mutual passion for something we love embodies the same principles that Rotaract represents.  

“From my short experience, I find Rotaract to be a similar, close-knit community dedicated to serving others, from reading letters and sending books to prisoners to taking care of the homeless by providing food, to name a few instances. The people in the club as well as in the parent organization are kind, quirky, and genuinely care about an overarching theme of self-sacrifice and benefitting humanity through volunteer work, and I think that’s just really awesome.”

-John Wang, Freshman

“Why did you join Rotaract, and why did you stay?”

“I joined because I really loved the cause, people just doing service for no gain of their own. I’m really into that. I feel like when you’re doing a service, it shouldn’t be about you, but about all the possible people you could help. I felt like Rotaract did a good job of trying to reach all the people in need, and not really just sticking to one specific group of people. Also the fact that we addressed issues at home was also really important since I know to help others you must help yourself as well. I stayed in Cal Rotaract for this reason, and because I loved the people.

“This is a community where people can broaden their perspectives, whether it be focusing on what you can do at home, what you can do for the world, or what you can do to connect with all different kinds of people with all different kinds of views. Open mindedness and an open heart go a long way when you’re trying to help so many different kinds of people.”

-Julia Acuna-Fleming, Sophomore