The first Rotary Youth leadership Awards (RYLA) camp in Sikkim back in 2012 was my first trip to any place ever in my life. It changed my life forever. It helped me come out of my comfort zone. It introduced me to the world of mountaineering, adventure and a lot more. I overcame my fear of heights and helped me build confidence during public speaking. Amazing right? Do read about the experience and about the RYLA on the IHCAE campus of Chemchey in South Sikkim. Apart from RYLA, I have also included the places to visit in South Sikkim in that article.
International RYLA at Rural Resource Training Centre in Umran, Meghalaya
Two years later i.e. on 23rd April 2014, I set out to Meghalaya to attend another RYLA at the Rural Resource Training Centre (RRTC) in Umran of Ri Bhoi district, Meghalaya. What an experience it was! It was a place that I was travelling to for the first time and all by myself. It helped me explore the places that I had been hearing about since my childhood.
Youth being guided by Rotary is really praiseworthy. Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) is one of the best gifts I have ever received. New friends, a new atmosphere, new and adventurous activities, leadership training, fun, and games are what it is all about.
RYLA 2014 (24th-26th April 2014)
Deboarding the sumo vehicle at Umran, I hiked for about a kilometre from the Guwahati-Shillong Road at Umran to the RRTC campus. The first two friends I met were a Khasi guy from Meghalaya and a Nepali friend from Kalimpong. This International RYLA was organised by the Rotary Club of Shillong. Participants from Bhutan, Bangladesh, Rwanda, Assam, Kalimpong, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura joined the event.
On the 24th of April, 2014, the 3 exciting days of RYLA began. The day started with a Yoga Session. It was fun to learn about Surya Namaskar and other aspects of Yoga. The tone with which our Yoga instructor directed us through the steps made the session, even more, fun and funny.
Each session on the 24th was full of unique activities. Group dynamics, Socialization Skills, Exercises, and Group Familiarization were some of the activities included in the first session.
The other activities include a session on ‘Discovering Myself’ and outdoor games in which we had the opportunity to implement our ideas to make the game easier, smooth and less time-consuming.
The next day, i.e. 25th of April 2014 started with yoga. In the following session, we were asked to share a successful and an unsuccessful story about ourselves with our group members. This helped us realise what we had in common and how special each one of us is.
Next was a hike to different units of the Rural Resource Training Centre (RRTC) such as the food processing unit, fishery, piggery etc. I was surprised to know that a few of the pickles that we buy in Guwahati (Assam) were in fact produced in RRTC, Umran (Meghalaya). The fact the RRTC in Umran has been providing training to school dropouts and villagers to make them self-dependent was commendable.
The best part of the day, however, was the cultural evening organised by the Rotary Club of Orchid City Shillong. It was the best as we had the opportunity to witness the cultural dances of the Garo and Khasi ethnic groups of Meghalaya. These performances enlightened us with a spirit of dance and music.
The 26th of April was another power-packed day with some very good sessions. On this day, the presentations on ‘Life Skills for Youth Development’, ‘Career for 21st Century’, ‘Netiquette-etiquettes to be maintained on the internet(mails)’ and ‘Role of Youth in peace building’ did help me a lot in accepting myself as who I am. This was perhaps the first time I listened to my inner self and realised what I had been missing in my life.
The campfire at night after the valedictory function was the best night of my life. Unlike the RYLA 2012 in Sikkim, this time I danced wholeheartedly and started the Campfire session with a Bihu Song. I still remember how enthusiastically the Past Dist. Governor of 3240 Rtn. Endow danced Bihu with us.
Alas! Every good start has an ending. the day of departure was the 27th of April. A day that started slow and steady but had a fast and emotional ending. The day started with an optional Shillong sightseeing tour. We visited the tourist places in Shillong like Umiam Lake, Elephant Falls and Shillong Peak and ended with a grand banquet at Hotel Polo Towers in Shillong.
To all the youths please do try to attend such special gifts of Rotary called – RYLA and RYE (Rotary Youth Exchange). RYLA has gifted me a new life, a life full of meaningful friendships, confidence, ethics and integrity. This RYLA in Meghalaya helped me to come out of my comfort zone too. I wasn’t shy anymore to dance.
I must thank the Rotary Club of Duliajan who sponsored me to attend the RYLA organised by the Rotary Club of Shillong.