Student represents Kentucky at international conference

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Story by Lindsey Coleman, Contributing writer

Daniela Callejas, junior from Sogamoso, Colombia, attended the international Rotary Youth Leadership Awards conference in Washington, D.C., July 19-25, where she represented Kentucky.

Callejas received funding from the Rotary District 6710 to be the only person from Kentucky at the event. She is a member of Murray State’s Rotaract Club.

According to the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards website, “Rotaract is a Rotary-sponsored service club for young men and women ages 18 to 30. Rotaract Clubs are either community-based or university-based and they are sponsored by a local Rotary Club.”

While at the conference, Callejas said she attended workshops in English and Spanish on fundraising and recruitment.

“It’s not a matter of the numbers, it’s a matter of how many people want to help,” Callejas said.

Forty-four countries’ Rotary Clubs were represented at the conference. Among those countries were Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Ecuador and 20 of the United States.

One of the main goals of the conference was to select a new campaign for Rotary International. During the week, the representatives met in groups to research and brainstorm global issues, Callejas said.

In recent years, Rotary International has worked to find a cure for Polio. This year, the countries’ representatives came together to search for a new worldwide campaign. The judges decided to focus on reducing food waste around the world in an effort to reduce starvation, help the environment and serve the homeless.

The best part of the conference was getting to know people and learning about how they’re making a difference around the world, Callejas said.

Callejas was housed at George Washington University where she roomed with girls from India, Africa and Canada.

Other events at the conference included a gala, reading to children at local schools and participating in a talent show, Callejas said.

One way Murray State’s Rotaract Club is considering making a difference is by raising awareness of Rotary around the country. Callejas said they plan to send the Murray State mascot to different schools to encourage involvement in the efforts of Rotary nationally and locally.

“No matter how small a difference you feel like you’re making, it still has an impact on the world,” Callejas said.