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Rotary celebrates RYLA

Posted 27 February 2024

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RYLA stands for Rotary Youth Leadership Awards and is a dynamic and intensive leadership program for young adults run annually by Rotary and supported by the local Epping Rotary Club.

Through a week-long residential program, it helps young adults build communication skills, learn leadership strategies, discover how to unlock potential and be motivated into action, and exposes them to community leaders, speakers and peers. And they make friends for life!

The program runs in January each year, and Epping Rotary nominated two participants (Tai Ho and Yasina Azimi) to attend in 2024. Funding for this was provided through a grant from Community Bank Epping.

At a Rotary meeting in February 2024, Yasina and Tai spoke of their experiences, why they nominated to participate in RYLA, what the week meant to them and how they hope to use their experiences in their career and for the community. They spoke with the passion and confidence that showed how much they had already gained from the experience.

Yasina Azimi

Yasina, an Afghan refugee who has grown up in Australia, spoke with passion on her upbringing and how her law studies at Macquarie University led to hearing about the RYLA program.

She commented that when she initially interviewed for RYLA, she was told that it would be lifechanging experience but she found that hard to believe. Now, she was testifying that the week-long intensive program has had just that effect for her. ‘It is a 7 day program that is life changing and transformational’ she said in her presentation.

Yasina detailed how the full program (7am -10pm daily) included outstanding speakers from wide ranging backgrounds and with different insights. She was particularly moved by Deng Adut, the advocate and lawyer.

Reflecting on the program, she said: ‘In the seven days, we were tested in all ways and made great friends’.

Since she came back, Yasina is already applying her learnings – both in advocacy and in helping as a volunteer supporting women facing domestic violence cases at court. She is also working with an Afghan refugee group advocating on behalf of the community.

Tai Ho

An international student from Vietnam, Tai is also studying at Macquarie University. He heard of RYLA through the university’s Global Leadership program and felt it was a great opportunity to expand his experience in Australia and develop skills to take back to Vietnam.

He reflected on how the program brought together people from wide ranging of backgrounds and experiences and he learnt from them all. He had also noticed how some of the speakers were former RYLA participants who were already making a difference in their communities and able to come back and share with the next generation of RYLA’ites. He said the biggest learning he took from the program was to fight for what he believed in and to take the initiative to make a difference.

Interested in RYLA?

Read more on Rotary’s website, and contact Epping Rotary about applying for next year’s program.

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