We recently caught up with one of our previous students, Grace Montgomery, to find out how she has embraced the Power of Giving since she graduated from the program. Find out more about how the former Hillsborough High School student is setting the world on fire.
RNF: Tell us what you’re currently doing.
BB: Currently, I am a Rotary Youth Exchange student studying in Betim, Minas Gerais, Brazil for the year. As a Rotary Youth exchange student, I am involved with my local Rotary Club here in Brazil. I am also a member of the partner Interact Club (Rotary Club for teenagers) and I participate in weekly meetings and community service projects for both clubs. I sometimes volunteer at English schools for a day, and help the classes learn more about American culture. As for my education, I am currently studying Law in a Brazilian University (although the Brazilian law system is quite different from the American law system!), and when I return to the U.S. I will major in International Relations with a minor in Portuguese at Florida State University. I spend my free time traveling/sightseeing around Brazil, trying to get rid of my American accent, and immersing myself in the Brazilian culture and day-to-day life!
RNF: How has your experience in the Student Service Program (SSP) prepared you for what you’re currently doing?
BB: I feel as though the SSP has given me valuable experience in regards to organizing fundraisers and community service events. I have been able to use my SSP experiences in organizing donation drives and fundraising events with my Interact Club for a local kindergarten, as well as fundraising raffles and events for the Rotary Club. I was able to remember the fundraising tactics that we used last year in the SSP to organize the Restaurants for Ryan Nights, and apply them to my current fundraising projects here in Brazil. Another valuable trait that I learned from the SSP is the importance of teamwork and carefully brain-storming all the ideas from a group in order to come up with the best overall solution. Dialog is necessary for team planning, and I have encouraged my Brazilian Interact club to carefully discuss projects and to not give up on an idea to help out the community! Besides the practical experience from SSP that I have been able to apply in my community service work here, the public speaking opportunities I had in the program have made me feel much more at ease when making presentations about the United States in front of crowds (something that exchange students sometimes have to do at multiple times throughout the year). I now have the heart to go up in front of any number of people and speak confidently; whether it be in English or Portuguese.
RNF: What are your future plans and where does service/volunteerism factor into those plans?
BB: My plans for the future are to return to the U.S., start college, and get involved with the local Rotaract Club (Rotary for college-level and young adults). I would like to continue my volunteerism throughout college and the future, especially with Rotary-affiliated organizations or whenever the Ryan Nece Foundation needs a helping hand! I feel like both organizations have given me so much, and I would like to continue paying it forward. My bigger goals for the future are to hopefully join the Peace Corps after graduation, and then pursue a career in the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer. The first time I had ever been out of the country was when I went on the service trip to the Dominican Republic with the Student Service Program, so I will always thank the Ryan Nece Foundation for planting that first seed of curiosity to see the world and find a way I can positively affect it at the same time!
– Toiaya Crawford