Entering our 16th year of operation, our 2014 Service Year General Orientation was our larger ever: almost 500 people in attendance, including the parents of our record 216 new students in our incoming class. With 41 Alum Leaders (returning alums with leadership over international service committees), 76 adult professional mentors, 8 Team Leaders and 8 Assistant Team Leaders (ATLs), our eight international service teams are all at 38-43 members.
General Orientation began with three concurrent sessions: One for incoming parents where they heard from and asked questions of a panel of nine alum parents. The session did much to calm the anxieties of parents about to commit their sons or daughters to a rigorous local and international Service Year. Students met with their ATLs who explained our local service requirement, how to select a main site, log and verify hours in our online Local Service Directory. Mentors and Team Leaders met with Alum Leaders to define their leadership relationship over the committees that plan our international service. This session was led by long time Team Leaders, Britnie Powell and Scott Bawden.
In our second session, new students, parents, and mentors met with Youthlinc staff for an overview of the Service Year, while team leadership had a meeting to plan curriculum and strategies and to discuss how they will interface to instill a deep service ethic and leadership skills in their team members.
Lastly, international teams and parents of new students met to review the international site, planned projects, flight information and itinerary in-country.
Our new Nepal site will host two teams, led by returning Team Leaders Scott Bawden and Stephanie Chard (assisted by ATLs Jacob Draper and Clarissa Lawrence respectively. We are very much looking forward to building our partnership with the Rotary Club of Kathmandu Metro, our in-country hosts.
We also have two teams to Thailand, hosted by our long time partner, the Rotary Club of Patong Beach, and the inimitable Brad Kenny, our in-country coordinator. Stacy Nisogi leads our June team, assisted by Sidney Durfey. Brian Larson leads our July team, assisted by Samantha Turpin.
Kenya team is led by Britnie Powell, one of our most experienced Team Leaders, and Erin McMaster who is embarking on her fourth Youthlinc service experience. Ruth Adolphson is our Peru Team Leader and McKenna Petty is her ATL. Guatemala is led by Carson and Bobby Sheen, assisted by Elysha Davis. Paul and Kim Stringham lead our Cambodia site, with ATL Bekah Meads returning for her third Youthlinc service experience. General Orientation is unique: a 5 hour meeting where everyone leaves practically walking on air, so excited for the local and international service journey that is just beginning.