Rotaract is a Rotary International sponsored service club for young men and women ages 18-30. On the Kenai Peninsula, Kenai and Soldotna Rotary Clubs have sponsored two Rotaract clubs, one at Kenai Central High School, and the one at Skyview High School. Through the Rotaract program, young adults not only augment their knowledge and skills, but they also address the physical and social needs of their communities while promoting international understanding and peace through a framework of friendship and service.
During the last month Rotary Clubs from Homer and Soldotna, hosted a Rotaract delegation from Russian. There are over 30,000 Rotary Clubs in 160 different countries, with over 1.2 million members; however, the first Rotary club was chartered in Russia just a little over 10 years ago.
"I first heard of Russian Rotary club at the Russian/American School of Business Administration where I use to study. When we started our Rotaract Club two years ago, I was asked what Rotary meant to me, and I said, Rotary is my new big family," said Elena Kornienko, of Sakhalinsk. Kornienko is a past-president of the Rotaract Club of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and a member of the Rotaract team visiting the Peninsula.
Anton Kozych is from Vladivostok, and is also traveling with the team. At only 15 years of age, Anton will be entering the University this fall to pursue a law career, "I have been very impressed with the warmth and hospitality of the people of Alaska. The way you care for your environment and the beauty of the nature here is something I have learned much from," said Kozych.
From the Kamchatka Rotaract Club, Olga Kolina is seeing Alaska for the first time, "My life here has been full of new experiences everyday. The purpose of the Rotaract exchanges is brilliant. It is the future of our Russian youth to learn more about different cultures and technologies and make lasting friendships. Thank you Alaska for your hospitality," said Kolina in addressing the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly. Anna Gladysheva is also from Kamchatka and prior to coming to Alaska had visited other states in the U.S., "The people here are more hospitable, softer, and kinder than I had expected them to be, and it was very nice to learn this. There are many similarities between our people and the nature, traditions, and weather that we have," added Gladysheva, who is a linguist, and at the age of 19, owns her own beauty saloon which employs 19 people.
During their month long stay, the Rotaract delegation visited local seats of government, industry, Chambers of Commerce, and stayed with Rotary families that hosted them to a variety of Alaskan experiences.
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