We are People of Action, Would you like to be?

Letter from a Grateful Mother

To the Members of Rotary District 5630

Syble Hebbernan, 2017-18 Youth Exchange Student to Brazil

Thank you for allowing a moment of your time today to share a few thoughts and reflections pertaining to my daughter Syble, her Rotary Exchange, and the Rotary International Exchange program itself.

First of all, I would like to extend my apologies that time did not allow for a public and personal thank you during last week’s noon meeting. Words, regardless of whether they are written or spoken, will not begin to touch the magnitude of gratitude I have to this organization for gifting my daughter with a truly transformative year in her young adult life.

As a parent, it has been my desire to plant seeds of compassion, service, and cultural curiosity in my children. While I believe I was able to assist in planting those seeds, Rotary blessed my child in a culminating cultural and growing experience, the likes of which I was incapable of extending to her alone. For that, I am and will remain always grateful!

Syble spent the first 14 years of her life in a homeschool environment. At 5 years old she came bounding into the kitchen one morning, with a backpack on her back ready for Kindergarten. I asked her to make a list of the things she wished to learn about in school. At the top of her list she exclaimed, “ I want to know about all people, everywhere!”

Fast forward to the day she called me in September 2016 after the Rotary meeting in which she met Paula, the District Chairperson for the Rotary Exchange Program, with a voice breaking from tears she said to me, “Mom, I know what I am supposed to do next in life!” We had already begun the process of college visits, applications, and the like but I knew from that moment that her heart and her fire was for this purpose, at this time. I prepared myself for the fact that this little girl who wanted to know about everyone, everywhere had turned into a young woman wishing for the same. The difference now however, is her desire to extend love, compassion, and understanding across cultural boundaries and forge a better future for our nation and the world.

Secondly, I wish to commend Abby and Syble for the curiosity, tenacity, and bravery which helped to put Rotary International Youth Exchange back on the map in North Platte. My best to Hallie as she heads out for her year of adventure and learning and a huge welcome to Bia, our current exchange student here locally.

It is my hope that so long as the Rotary Exchange program exists, North Platte will be as supportive and involved with it as it appears we are at present! My grandmother, Dorothy Rosenberg, used to say, “look around to see what you can do for the good of the cause.” Granted, sometimes she was merely giving my sister and I a gentle nudge to clean up the kitchen however, most often, it was an expression as to how we should constantly be looking for ways to make things better for ourselves and others.

I adamantly believe that programs such as this one lend themselves perfectly to doing something “for the good of the cause.” It is a valuable investment in the young adults who participate as well as an equally valuable tool in making our communities, our state, this nation, and the world a better place. Whether a student goes on with a larger world vision of giving back on an international scale, as is the case with Syble, or has a desire to return home to their local community, all will be better equipped to serve in a unique and extraordinary capacity.

Lastly, I wish to compliment the Rotary organization as a whole. From start to finish, from the application process, the candidate interviews, student and parent preparation offerings, outbound camp, supports locally and abroad, to the rebound camp available upon student re-entry, Rotary has proven itself as an outstanding example of organizational support and class. I am happy to provide any information or supports along the way from the parent perspective if at any time that would be of assistance.

Thank you again from the bottom of this mother’s heart,

Heather Heffernan
North Platte, NE 08-08-2018