The Rotatea blog is back again! This issue is about our wonderful Interact Committee, whose main goal is to bridge the gap between our club, Rotaract, with its high school branch, Interact. Their main focus is planning the biannual Cal Berkeley Rotaract Stayover (CBRS), which is aimed at empowering local high school students, demonstrating the importance of continuing service beyond high school, and presenting a snapshot of college. Along with CBRS, the Interact Committee also has a mentorship penpal program that partners Rotaractors with high school students around the Bay Area.
To learn more about the committee, our fantabulous Interact Committee Co-Chairs, Aadhithya Manimaran and Genevieve Bellavance are here to tell you more about their experiences!
Why did you choose to be a committee head for your committee?
Aady: “In high school, I was a little involved in Interact but not a lot. I participated in some service events, but I wasn’t an officer, so it was more something I did occasionally. Then after coming to college and joining Rotaract, I got involved in the Interact committee with Stayover in Fall 2019 and I had a really good time. After my term as Fellowship Chair in 2020, I applied to be Interact chair and that is where I am now. I’m really excited to help run Stayover after having such a good time being a group leader in the past.”
Gen: “For me, I was in Interact in high school too. I was involved as a club president and I was on District Council, as well. Both those things were really important to me, so I came to want to do Interact for as long as I can. Coming to college in the virtual year, I was determined to look out for Rotaract. Luckily, I knew someone who was in Rotaract, because we had been on District Council together, so I asked them for the Zoom link. I saw that [Rotaract] had an Interact committee, so I joined because I was in Interact already and it turned out to be really fun. Then, they released officer applications, and I applied for Interact because it felt natural, because that’s what I’ve been doing for the past four years of my life, so might as well add another! It’s been fun, I’ve been enjoying it a lot.”
What is your favorite part about this committee?
Gen: “There are so many good things. We have a really good group of people in our committee. Everyone is really fun and easy to work with, and it makes coming here every week all the better. We get to have fun while planning this super cool event. Getting to work with Aady and Lauren (Rotaract’s president) has also been good fun and I really enjoy it. I feel like the work dynamic that we have between the three of us works pretty well. The friendship that we’ve been able to develop over the past term has also been very valuable to me.”
Aady: “Honestly, I like working with the different subcommittees. It’s nice to go between the subcommittees and see what everyone’s working on, because it’s cool to see all the different things that go into planning a Stayover, how big it is, and how everybody works so hard to get so many things done while working together. Like Gen said, it’s so fun to have Gen as a co-chair, and Lauren as my umbrella.”
What makes the theme of “bears” special for this semester?
Aady: “One thing that I like about “bears” is how there’s been many fun ideas that have come out of it for group names. You have panda bears and polar bears, which are cute but normal names. Then, we also have names like gummy bears, which I did not think of. This is a fun way to incorporate the theme. The “bears” theme has a lot of fun things, along with very fun puns too, so it is very cool.”
What do you hope to accomplish with your theme this semester?
Gen: “We were able to expand creatively the theme “bears” to gummy bears, teddy bears, tardigrades, etc., which are all very creative and not something I would have imagined coming out of something as simple as ”bears.” That’s going to be a cool way for the Interactors to say, ‘Wow, go bears!’ It’s also tied to Berkeley, since we’re the Golden Bears. I feel like it’s such an accessible theme – I hope it’ll make them feel connected and have a good time and Stayover because of that.”
Aady: “Also, after coming back to Berkeley and having a Stayover after such a long time, having a theme like “bears”, which is very connected to Berkeley, is very poetic in a sense as well.”
What events that you were planning that you were planning to see that you are most excited for?
Gen: “For me, when I was an Interactor, my prime time to socialize was in the night because I was convinced that that would be when I had the most energy. I always got super excited for dinner time and late nights, right before going to bed. At the Interact events I would go to, there would be some sort of dance party where we’d just blast old pop songs, and it was super fun. People go and dance and you’d cheer them on. I don’t know if we have anything like that, so the equivalent would be late night shenanigans, but I’m not sure how that will play out, as we haven’t planned that part yet. But I’m super excited to see how that pans out and I feel like that will be a good time for everyone to let loose, have fun, and get to know each other.”
What was your favorite event that you’ve done in the past for the committee? And will you be doing anything similar this year?
Aady: “My favorite event from when I was a group leader in Stayover for Fall 2019 was the dinner part, where we took our group out into Berkeley. We ate at a Thai place, and it was super good. It was honestly nice to sit at a long table with all the group members, and everyone was talking. Earlier in the day, it was probably a lot more awkward meeting everyone for the first time, but it was nice to see by that point how everyone had become so close in such a short time. Everyone was talking to everybody, and it was such a nice experience to see. For the Stayover, I’m looking forward to, maybe not necessarily the dinner itself, but just seeing over the course of the day people becoming closer and making friends.”
What was your favorite memory from your time as a committee head?
Aady: “I think one of my favorites, going back to last semester when we had the online virtual Stayover, is when we did our first big event of that Stayover. Instead of being one day, Spring 2021 Stayover was several events spaced out throughout the semester. Our first [event] was a Minecraft tour that was broadcasted on Twitch, but people could interact in the chats, and they were in Zoom rooms, where they could talk with their groups too. It was nice, at the end of that event, to say, ‘Wow, we finished our first event. All these Interactors came out and it seemed like they had a good time.’”
Gen: “Honestly, any of the Stayover events that we had from last semester were really fun. It was super cool to plan and see the events actually happen, because the previous semester, there wasn’t a virtual Stayover, because of the nature of COVID. When we decided that we wanted to do [a virtual Stayover], it was going to be something that was super new, so it was exciting to take on this thing that hadn’t been done before. At the end, we went, ‘Wow, we actually pulled that off,’ and that was kind of crazy.”
When are your club meetings?
Aady: “Our club meetings are every Thursday, 7-8pm. They all happen in the Social Sciences building, but sometimes the rooms switch around. You can find us on our Facebook group as well, where we post [about the meeting] a couple days in advance.”
If someone wants to be involved in your community, what should they do?
Aady: “We technically are a closed committee – that’s more of a logistics thing so that we can make sure people are signed up and know what they’re contributing to by the beginning of the semester. We definitely encourage you, if you are enthusiastic about Interact, to either show up to our meetings and talk to us, or you can reach out to us. Our email is [email protected]. Or if you see me, Aadhithya, or Genevieve on Facebook, you can message us and say, ‘Hi I want to get involved,’ and we definitely won’t turn you away, so feel free.”
Anything that you would like to add and or sign off with?
Aady: Thank you all for reading through this interview. Come join Interact, or if you want to help out during Stayover, we have a volunteer form! (The form was due Thursday, October 21, but if you’re still interested in volunteering, please contact Gen or Aady!)
Gen: A shout out to our committee members who are super cool, and of course to Aady and Lauren for being the best people I’ve come to know.
Now, onto our interview with Patricia Milano, one of the members of the Interact Committee!
What Interact committee event are you most excited about for this semester?
“I am definitely excited for when the students are coming over, because I think that’s when all our work is paid off. You could actually interact with them and answer their questions. I enjoy giving advice to high school students, especially because my sister is a [high school] senior, so I love that kind of experience in being able to help them out.”
What has been your favorite memory so far in the Interact committee?
“I actually like being able to read the students’ answers when they apply to be in the Stayover. I was in the marketing subcommittee the first time that I joined Interact, and this time, I’m the head of the marketing subcommittee. I enjoy doing that a lot, being able to talk to my committee and say, ‘This person did this, should we accept them,’ and being able to talk about it.”
What was your favorite event for the Interact committee that you have done in the past?
“I like being able to make Google forms and sheets. I am not a very tech-savvy person, so after learning from someone who knows how to do this, I was able to utilize it for all my other classes and all my other clubs. I really enjoyed learning this. Seeing all the Google sheets, I was like, ‘Who made this?’”
Are you excited about the “bears” theme for this semester?
“Yes! That was really adorable. Last semester, it was potatoes, and this semester, it’s bears. I love the trend of these circular, fluffy-looking beans, I love it.”
Thank you for making it to the end! Hopefully, you’ve learned more about the Interact Committee after reading this blog. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Aady and Gen at [email protected]. or us at [email protected]. Make sure to check out the other Rotaract committees as well!