My Rotary hat is the ultimate travel accessory

Kate McKenzie meets a Melbourne Rotarian during her travels.

Kate McKenzie, wearing her Rotary hat, meets a fellow Rotarian in Melbourne.

By Kate McKenzie, a member of the Rotary Club of Randwick, New South Wales, Australia

Since joining Rotary, I have discovered the ultimate travel accessory, my Rotary hat. Not only does it keep the sun off my Celtic skin, but it advertises my connection to Rotary.

I currently live in Sydney with my husband, but grew up on a farm in the southern part of Western Australia. It’s one of the most isolated and beautiful parts of the world, but it’s also what inspired me to be interested in other cultures and what led me to Rotary.

Our farm borders a national park, with flat farmland stretching for miles in front of a range of blue mountains. In the ’70s, my uncle and dad decided to set up a business accommodating tourists. International visitors often arrived in the evening without food not realizing the nearest shops are a half hour away. “No worries,” my dad would say, “We’ve got lamb roast back at our place.” Our house was always full of new friends from different parts of the world. These experiences made me curious about the places our visitors came from and led me to study languages.

The year I turned 13, I went away to boarding school in Perth and had the opportunity to start learning Japanese and French. At 15, I spent 10 months in Japan on an exchange with our sister school. When I applied for Rotary Youth Exchange, I wrote on the form that I would go anywhere where they didn’t speak English, and thus celebrated my 18th birthday in Argentina. One more sojourn in Japan brought my exchange total to three.

I visited several Rotary clubs over the years but at 35, when I finished my postgrad studies, I finally joined Rotary as I had always intended. A little over two years later and I am loving it!

I have always been interested in meeting new people. This is something I inherited from my dad, who could talk to anyone, in car parks, cafes, on walking paths, anywhere. Now, whenever I travel, my Rotary hat goes with me. On a recent trip to Melbourne, I ran into three Rotarians from different clubs — instant new friends!

So my challenge to you is to wear the Rotary logo big and bold whenever you go for a walk, or to the gym, or down the beach, or out and about. Wear your Rotary pin to work every day. You never know when you might run into another Rotarian or a former exchange student or youth program participant that you can invite to visit your club. Share your pictures on social media and show just how much fun you can have making friends in Rotary. And one day we may meet and I can invite you over for lamb roast. 

Source: Rotary Voices

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