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Rotary sends three to RYLA camp

Published 7:55pm Thursday, November 8, 2012


Austin Broda, Maggie Cripe, Lacey Tsai and Kristyn Turner


Kristyn Turner carries a pencil as a reminder of her mid-August experience at Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) camp in Battle Creek.

She met a Ugandan school builder.

“They have to walk 20 miles every day to get to school,” she said. “I get in my car and drive a mile. He said, ‘The difference between going to school and getting through school is a pencil’ ” in the African nation.

“If you get to school and don’t have a pencil, they send you home,” Kristyn said.

“He grew up in a family of five kids. His dad would break each pencil into five pieces. Jackson said the oldest got the eraser. That made me cry. I’ve never really been out of Michigan, and to think that’s what it’s like out there is something I’m never going to forget. I actually carry a pencil with me in my purse in my car. He gave it to me, and I keep it with me all the time.”

“He learned to write very carefully,” Austin Broda, a junior, added.

President Maggie Cripe, Vice President Kristyn Turner and director Austin Broda of the 50-member DUHS Interact club visited Dowagiac Rotary Thursday noon to thank members for sending them to RYLA camp in mid-August in Battle Creek.

Kristyn applied to attend an advanced session in March.

They were joined by Rotary exchange student Tzu-Han “Lacey” Tsai of Taiwan, who is living in Dowagiac for the 2012-13 school year. Arriving in July, Lacey said she noticed that nobody walks anywhere. She has also had to adjust to changing class each period.

Maggie wants to attend Albion College like her mother, Beth, to become a “financial detective,” which combines accounting with criminal law.

Kristyn’s plans are less settled. She’s leaning toward communications and Central Michigan University.

“They separated us into four teams, but we still all worked together on physical and mental activities,” Maggie, a senior, said. “We learned a lot about our values, too, and made a lot of connections with people for Interact programs. My favorite part was the bonfire the last night (of a Friday-Sunday weekend). We felt like we’d known each other our entire lives and were closer than people we’ve known since first grade.”

Team-building activities included scaling a 10-foot wall.

“They were on the red team and thought they won everything,” Kristyn, a senior, said, “but the blue crew did pretty fantastic. I’m a pretty competitive person. I almost died putting myself on the line for someone I didn’t know. Two tall, strong guys lifted me up on the wall, but I guess I was pretty heavy because they started shaking and I fell. T.J. from Benton Harbor saved me. The lectures were my favorite part. We had a guest speaker from a law school who took it further. I was a student meeting with a professor, Maggie. She lent me a book manuscript I was to return within 48 hours, which I neglected to do, and now they lost the original copy. And I’m supposed to meet the professor the next day for a job recommendation letter. I was mortified! It’s all hypothetical. I’m not in law school, but I almost cried. How could I be so irresponsible? It taught me a lot about what I value and showed what I wrote down  — honesty, integrity, responsibility, dependability — I actually meant. It blew me out of the water.”

Kristyn also recounted figuring out how to build robots without directions.

“The great friends you make was my favorite part,” Austin said. “You get to know a lot about them in a short amount of time through team-building. I still communicate with people I met there through social media. When we played Otsego in football, I talked to friends afterwards.”

Their audience included Supt. Dr. Mark Daniel, DUHS Principal Pieter Hoekstra and retired superintendent Larry Crandall. Science teacher Amy Hackett advises Interact. Jennifer Ray introduced the students.

Interact’s food drive collected 630 items and $106 given to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church food bank.




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