Conchita R. Khan
Attended RYLA 9800 as a participant in 2018
Master of Engineering student in University of Melbourne
Why did you do RYLA?
I was told about it by a friend who is a former participant. It was during the holidays; I didn’t have any plans. Also, I’m an international student, I’d never been camping in Melbourne before, and I enjoy meeting new people, so I thought, ‘Why not?!’ I did not know anything about Rotary clubs or RYLA and I honestly wasn’t expecting much from the program. But I was wrong – the program turned out to be much more than just a social event. I’m glad my friend got me involved.
What did RYLA mean to you?
My biggest takeaway from RYLA was empathy and compassion for others. In our day-to-day lives, it is difficult, and often inappropriate, to talk about certain issues like mental health or discrimination, but RYLA was a good platform for me to do that with other people in the same age group as myself. Listening to people describe their lives and their struggles with issues that I don’t normally face gave me a deeper appreciation for them. At the same time, it was liberating for me to be allowed to share my story and my perspective on things. These conversations I will hold dear forever, because you don’t get many chances to have them.
How has RYLA helped you on the path you are on today?
RYLA helped me mature into a better person. I’m much more considerate about other people’s struggles and not as quick to distance myself from those who have different opinions. I believe I’ve learned to respectfully disagree and work with people I don’t see eye to eye with. This helps me not only in my personal life, but professional life as well.
I also had the fortune to meet the Governor of Rotary, Bronwyn Stephens, who then sponsored me to attend the Social Impact Forum and, a few months after that, the International Women’s Day Breakfast at the Crown. Moreover, a few months after RYLA ended, I was invited for dinner by my Rotary club to talk about my RYLA experience, where I met some amazing Rotarians. I’m looking forward to becoming involved with the Rotary club in some small capacity in the future.
And last, but not least, I made some great friends at RYLA – friends I still catch up with every now and then. We have this unspoken understanding that we’re always there to lend each other a hand or an ear. It’s a support system that lasts a long time.
One of the pillars of District 9800's RYLA program is Community. This blog will be an avenue for our RYLArians to contribute to the online RYLA community and share what they are doing to make change in their lives and the lives of others.