By: Yuan Xie
Hello! My name is Yuan Xie (pronounced like you and me). I am a fourth-year undergraduate student at UC Santa Barbara, and I am currently president of the campus-based Rotaract club. We started the chapter in September of last year, and it’s been a blast ever since!

Fact 1: Rotary Club of Santa Barbara has sponsored two Rotaract Clubs – one at SBCC and one at UCSB.

Fact 2: UCSB is the last undergraduate UC to have a campus-based Rotaract Club.

UCSB, UCLA, UCSC, UCD, and UC Berkeley Representing at BWR Conference 2018
I first got involved in Rotary in high school. The president of my Interact Club pulled me aside during lunch break and asked if I would like to attend a meeting. One meeting became two, then a volunteer event, then as secretary, then as an Assistant Representative of the District 5280 Interact Board, and now I am president of my Rotaract Club, all because of the amazing Rotarians I’ve met and because of all the guidance from my fellow Rotaractors.
Rotaractors from our district! Pictured from left to right: Parker Jellison, Boris Grodzovsky, Cory Yoshinaga, Yuan Xie, and Ashlyn Cavaletto
A few days ago, I had the pleasure of attending the Big West Rotaract Conference with others in my district: Boris Grodzovsky and Ashlyn Cavaletto from the Rotaract Club of Santa Barbara, Cory Yoshinaga and Ben Wilson from Conejo Valley Rotaract Club, and Parker Jellison from Ventura Rotaract. This conference is hosted by Big West Rotaract, which is a registered Multi District Information Organization (MDIO) with Rotary International. Essentially, they share information and facilitate communication between districts.
Fact 3: There are only 3 Rotaract MDIOs in the United States, 21 total in the world.
Some swag I got; marble countertop not included.
The conference experience was absolutely astounding. I met some awesome people from different UC’s, Arizona State University, and the University of Arizona. One person even flew from South Africa to be there with us in chilly Portland, Oregon.
Session breakouts
Members were encouraged to come on Friday to attend a networking night sponsored by AT&T on the Ecotrust Rooftop Terrace. With light music and excellent company, the conference was off to a good start.

Then, the conference officially kicked off on Saturday at 8am with some light breakfast and a few speakers and breakout sessions. What stuck with me was Alan Evan’s presentation of his journey. It was strikingly motivating for me to listen to his story of how he went from being a homeless drug addict to the Founder and CEO of Helping Hands Reentry Outreach Centers. He makes me want to get off my feet and help people, one day at a time. He received a standing ovation.
Plenary Session
During Saturday night, we had a small get-together at a local brewery. It was a light-hearted way of getting to know everyone in a less formal setting. Rotaractors know how to have fun ;)

Sunday morning came, and it was back to the grind. We were treated to some excellent speakers – Lou Radja and Tyson Wooters talking about “Dancing in the Rain: Leading & Thriving in a Changing World” and “From the Fellowship bubble, Back to the Real World”. Jermaine then reminded us that the Big West Institute is in July so if you know a Rotaractor who would be interested, please encourage them to attend!

Fact 4: The next Big West Conference is in Toronto, Canada. We’ve never hosted a conference there before, but it would be great to be able to see all of our friends from Canada!

We finished off the conference early and flew back on Sunday afternoon with motivation, excitement, and drive. Each of our several Rotaract clubs will now be able to learn what we learned through our meeting and will be able to attend future Rotaract Conferences.

Fact 5: This conference had the lowest attendance rate out of all five years; however, it was still one of the best in terms of energy!
Us at the Farmer’s Market outside the convention center
Overall, I would rate this experience a full 10/10 and would recommend every Interactor, Rotaractor, and Rotarian to attend a conference at some point in their career. It is definitely one of the best things to do if you want to get more involved, and once you attend one, it sucks you in.
At the airport! Pictured from left to right: Ben Wilson, Cory Yoshinaga, Ashlyn Cavaletto, Boris Grodzovsky, and Parker Jellison
I heard a quote uttered at the conference, and it’s stuck with me ever since. “You don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great.” Because I have found out recently the importance of Paul Harris Recognition and see its importance, I am now trying to start an annual pool for one outstanding Rotaractor to receive recognition from the District every year. This way, members can be encouraged to become Rotarians in their own time while still being recognized for their efforts. If you are interested in making this happen with me, please fill out this google form:

With that, I shall leave you to your thoughts, and hopefully my words have inspired you to take action in your community.

A special thank you to the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara for sponsoring my trip to Portland, Oregon. You all are the best!!!

With sincere appreciation,