FOOTSTEPS TO FOOTPRINTS: Interact Journey of Hope, Transformation, and Leadership

By Franthy Gelig | Posted on July 1, 2024

“What would my Interact story be like?” — this is a question I asked myself as I put down the last box of donated writing notebooks for the students of Mangabon Elementary School, as part of our Project Papel service project, under the Basic Education and Literacy area of focus of Rotary International, during my first months of being an Interactor. Four years later, I cemented it to, “This is my Interact leadership journey.”

As an Interactor, my leadership journey has been immensely reflective and transformative for me as a young leader. It was a journey of holistic growth, learning, and genuine connection. From the moment I joined Interact, I was enveloped in a community dedicated to render service all whilst fostering fellowship among fellow Interactors. Little did I know that this journey would shape not just my understanding of leadership but also my passion for service.

For me, my initiation into Interact was not just about joining a club; it was about joining a family of like-minded peers, with passion for selfless service. The camaraderie amongst fellow Interactors created an environment where I felt empowered to exercise my potential as a leader. From participating in service projects to collaborating on district initiatives, every endeavor taught me something new about leadership.

Induction of new members of my home club, IAC Banilad Metro – Science High Cebu during my term as the imaginative president

One of the earliest lessons I learned was the importance of listening. As a leader, it’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming we have all the answers, especially knowing that we have peers that look up to us. However, through interactions with my fellow Interactors and Rotarian mentors, I realized that true leadership begins with understanding the needs and perspectives of those around us. Whether it was planning a fundraiser or organizing a service project, I made a conscious effort to listen to diverse opinions and incorporate them into the decision-making process of how we bring that impact that we want to make in our projects to life. Hence, this principle not only fostered inclusivity within our club and the district but also led to more innovative and collaborative project and fellowship approaches.

Delivering the closing remarks, as the imaginative president of the club, of the Imagine Pink: A Breast Cancer Awareness Forum of RC Banilad Metro attended by 75 Interactors

Another significant aspect of my leadership journey was learning to lead by example. I quickly realized that words alone were not enough to inspire others; actions spoke louder. As someone who leads the youth, it is important to me that I make sure that what we do in Rotary is seen by our young leaders. I made it my purpose to strive to embody the values of service and dedication that Rotary stands for in hopes of motivating every Interactor to pursue service more than what is needed. 

Attended the PETS/SETS training in Butuan last February 2023 as the hope-creating District Interact Representative of RID 3860 with DG Twinkle Gamboa and DRR Remuel Coles

However, as I served as a district officer for this hope-creating year, I further learned that leadership isn’t just about individual actions; it’s about empowering others to make the most out of what we have, and hence manifesting our purpose. One of the most rewarding aspects of my journey was mentoring younger Interactors and guiding them on their own paths of leadership. Watching them grow from shy, hesitant newcomers to confident, capable leaders was incredibly fulfilling as showcased in the recently concluded RYLA 2024. Through mentorship and support, I aimed to instill in them the same values of compassion, integrity, and service that Rotary taught me — the very same values that guided me in my own journey.

Charged and inducted as a district officer by PDG Meanne Solomon and DG Twinkle Gamboa along with DIC Mary Christine Chua

Perhaps, the most transformative lesson I learned during my time in Interact was the power of collaboration. Rotary International’s motto, “Service Above Self,” exemplifies the spirit of selflessness and cooperation that defines the organization. The power that Rotary has, gathering people of diverse backgrounds to do one thing — service, inspired me as a young leader. Through collaborative projects and partnerships with other Interact clubs, Rotaract clubs, Rotary clubs, and community organizations, I witnessed firsthand the incredible impact that can be achieved when individuals come together for a common cause. Indeed, together, we are people of action.

Taken during a meeting with Sacred Heart School – Ateneo de Cebu’s faculty for the chartering of a new Interact Club with sponsoring Rotary Club, RC Metro Cebu’s president, Josefina Zabate and Assistant Governor of Area 1C, Jonathan Zabate

Hence, my Interact story started with being just a girl with a vision and a calling for service, and through Interact I was able to turn that vision into plans, plans into actions, and cementing that action with an impact as a young woman of vision, service, and purpose. And I’ve always had the vision of becoming the woman that my younger self has always aspired to become. And writing this message is she, empowered and purposeful; all thanks to Rotary.

Led an Interact 101 introduction and club orientation for the charter members of IAC Metro Cebu – Sacred Heart School – Ateneo de Cebu

As I reflect on my Interact leadership journey, I am filled with gratitude for the experiences, friendships, and lessons that have shaped me into the leader that I am today. Through moments of triumph and challenges alike, I have grown not just as a leader but as a person. I have learned to lead with empathy, to serve with humility, and to inspire with genuinity. 

Attended the induction ceremonies of IAC Metro Mandaue 2006 – St. Theresa’s College Cebu for the charging and induction of its hope-creating president, officers, and members, with DIC Mary Christine Chua

And while my time in Interact may be coming to an end, the values and principles instilled in me will continue to guide me in my future endeavors, both within Rotary and beyond. To Rotary International District 3860 Rotarians and Rotaractors, involve Interact. Create hope in the world by amplifying the voices of the young leaders of our district; because we are the future of Rotary. 

Given a speech about my Interact Leadership Journey during the Rotary Youth Leadership Award and Interact Bootcamp 2024 in March 2024 in Cordova, Cebu

For in the end, as I recall what a hope-creating president told me during the PETS/SETS in Butuan last February 2023, true leadership isn’t about titles or accolades; it’s about making a positive difference and creating hope in the lives of others and leaving the world a little better than we found it — and that, for me, is the magic of Rotary.

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