July 15, 2019, By Soovan Sharma Dookhoo, Published in Rotary International

Attending a Rotary Youth Leadership Awards event hosted by District 9220 in Madagascar has been one of my most cherished experiences both from a leadership and a cultural standpoint. I joined members of Rotaract from Mauritius, marching as one, as we eagerly boarded a flight to the longest island in the Indian Ocean. From my first day in Madagascar, I was surrounded by a completely different culture. It was a joy simply going through the streets, and taking in all of the scenery and action.

Any event that includes young people from Comoros, Djibouti, Reunion, Rodrigues, Seychelles and Mauritius is going to be a profound blend of culture and synergy of ideas.

We were all proud to be part of the Rotary network. Rotary Youth Leadership Awards forges an even deeper bond between Rotarians, Rotaractors, Interactors and their guests. Regardless of what country you are from, there is Rotary and Rotaract. And Service Above Self unites us all.

At the end of each seminar, we viewed each other with a friendship that strengthened our connections. It was a true blend of cultures from all these diverse areas: Madagascar, Reunion, Brazil, Taiwan, Austria, Germany, Rodrigues and Mauritius. I remain proud of my country. But I shall now look toward other nationalities with compassion and a desire to safeguard humanitarian rights.

If you visit Madagascar, I encourage you to taste the mystical dishes made from their flour, including pastries, bread and pizza. Madagascar is an ideal place to visit for adventurous people willing to try new things. Dare to embark in the Malagasy taxi, experience the busy streets and feel the boost of energy from the population. The capital Antananarivo is always welcoming be it dawn or dusk. There is always someone you can talk to.

I am eager to conduct joint projects with the Rotaract Club of Hina, our twin club, who I got to know better during the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards. We share the same goals and the same youthful aspirations. Our generation has the same objective of securing a sound future for our respective islands.

Madagascar: thank you for your hospitality. And I thank the oldest Rotary club of Madagascar for organizing an amazing Rotary Youth Leadership Awards. I am looking forward to more adventures.