Anniela Carracedo, former Rotary Youth Exchange Student and new member of the Rotary Club of Bay St Louis has been named by RI President Elect Shekhar Mehta as one of just 5 people to serve on the first Interact Advisory Council!  She has been doing incredible things with a truly international impact.  I’ve asked her to describe Rotary Interactive Quarantine, which was born just one year ago with the full support of Youth Service Chair, Sam Walley, and the entire D6840 leadership team. Keep in mind as you read this that Anni isn’t out her teens and hasn’t been able to return home to Venezuela since she arrived to us in August 2019.  She is simply amazing!  Allow her to inspire you to be People of Action and do more with your membership in Rotary.
Back in March, when the world went to lock down and all service projects and Rotary activity was suspended, a group of interactors and youth exchange students decided to get together and share best practices during the quarantine. It led to the creation of Rotary Interactive Quarantine, a network to connect Rotary youth, share cultures, and open new collaborative opportunities for international service projects. More than 1000 students from 60 different countries have participated in RIQ activities; one Conference with keynote speakers President Holger Knaack, Past President Mark Daniel Maloney, NASA Astronaut Dr. Love, District 6840 Governor Elizabeth  Van Sant, Dr. Todd "Bowtie" Jenkins, and  Rotaractor Shaun Oberholzer.

The network was born from the need for connection between young leaders and has been creating a source of information for Rotary youth programs.  The programs and projects have been aligned with Rotary causes and monthly themes, creating guides and materials about membership, how to develop peace protects and more.  Also, it has been a great opportunity for the interactors and youth exchange students to have fun and share cultures. RIQ hosted a party to celebrate World Interact Week, in partnership with the Office for Youth Programs of Rotary International.  From that experience, a new format of the meeting was born: "Social meetups."  These are events without speakers and formalities, just to socialize and make friends.

Besides the Conference and the party, the young leaders have hosted 16 meetings, where the Interact clubs share their successful projects performed during the lockdown.  These meetings have strengthened the relationships between Interact Clubs and Rotarians with the participation of high-level leadership Rotarians such as the President of the Rotary eClub of Silicon Valley, the founder of the Rotarian Action Group for Mental Health, a member of the Elevate Rotaract Task Force Committee, Rotaract for Peace, the Rotarian Action Group for Peace and RI President Nominee Jennifer Jones.

The most significant activity promoted by RIQ is the twinning meeting, without any doubt. RIQ has served as a platform to connect hundreds of interact clubs for them to have the twinning meeting, where 2 Interact Clubs from 2 different countries meet and share about their country and their club, and reinforce one of the Rotary traditions of exchanging club flags.  More than 150 twinning meetings have been done through RIQ – that’s 300 Interact Clubs!

Already the biggest and most representative organization of the Youth Programs of Rotary, D6840 Rotary Interactive Quarantine has been invited to speak in several opportunities around the world, including RYLAs, Interact Conferences, Rotary, Rotaract and Interact district and club meetings.
***PS from DG Elizabeth…here’s an excerpt from the letter Anni received from the RI President Elect…and a tug-at-your-heart sales pitch on how important Youth Programs and Opening Opportunities for young people is critical to building international peace, goodwill, and better friendships.  While I couldn’t have Rotary Youth Exchange Students this year as District Governor, Anni and the members of the Youth Services Committee were still hard at work every day making the world and our communities better, stronger, connected, and more peaceful:
5 February 2021
Dear Anniela Carracedo:
As President-elect of Rotary International, it is my pleasure to invite you to serve as an Alumni member of the Interact Advisory Council. The term of this appointment is effective 1 July, 2021 and continuing through 30 June, 2022.
You have been selected for this appointment because we believe that you will add value to the committee given your experience and knowledge of Rotary and its programs. Please know that your appointment to the committee together with other proposed committee appointments was reviewed and approved by the RI Board at its January 2021 meeting.