Branching Out, Digging In

I go to Berkeley. I wear vegan Birkenstocks. I’m majoring in an environmental field. So, of course, I like trees.

Tall, mighty, stable… all of these adjectives come to mind when I think of the leafy giants– all of which, start with a simple trunk.

Just as a trunk forms the foundation of a tree, Interact formed the foundation of my high school experience. By leading my school’s club, serving on Interact 5170 District Council, and accumulating an entire network of fellow Interactors, I became pretty well suited to the unique soil and climate of Interact.

After growing such deep roots, it was quite unsettling for me to witness so many of my peers express such strong desires to end their involvement with Rotary once they got to college. Although a bit dumbfounded at first, I began to understand their reasons to distance themselves: feeling burned out from Interact leadership positions, wanting to try new things, desiring an escape from the Rotary bubble. As I heard more and more of these opinions, I felt the need to branch out from Interact as well. Berkeley was going to be the start of a new chapter of my life, one in which I would avoid the comfort zone of an organization that had given me so much during many of my formative years.

Thus, I maintained little to no involvement in Rotaract for the start of my college career, only joining the Interact Committee partway through the semester by chance. Even while I was learning the ropes of committee work, I questioned whether or not I was in the right place. Was I simply returning to my comfort zone? Was I really too scared to branch out and try something new?

All while balancing these conflicting emotions, I got a better understanding of what Cal Rotaract is really like: inclusive, friendly, quirky, and most of all, welcoming. These were all of the same characteristics that made me fall in love with Interact back as a freshman in high school, and here I was again: a freshman in college now, falling in love with Rotaract.

Now, I think back to the lost time of first semester when I could have been more involved, more open to the community that I would eventually come to find as a perfect match for me.

Last semester, I was so focused on branching out from Interact that I ignored the value of simply doing what I enjoyed. Throughout the rest of my time at Berkeley, I hope to continue to explore even deeper into the Rotaract soil and stay in touch with the Interact climate that had encouraged my own growth for so many years.

Determined to keep digging in, I plan extend my Rotary roots for as far as they can reach. How could I not? After all, I love trees.

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