Rotaract Mediterranean CR Interview Series : Italy

Welcome to the first Country Representative (CR) interview of this new MedTimes term! As new writers start composing their first pieces for MedTimes, we are happy to feature a name that has a special place for MedTimes. If you haven’t got the chance to do so yet, meet Andrea Serrani, the previous MedTimes Editor-in-Chief, interviewed by Melis Leyal Gürel, our current Editor-in-Chief. Interested in finding out about the lead person behind the organization that brought you countless articles last year? Then continue reading to find out about Andrea, the current CR for Italy and a member of the Rotaract Club Macerata of District 2090.

Andrea’s ties to Rotary extend back to his father, who was a Rotarian himself. His journey at Rotaract was, though, not a straightforward one and is like no other, as he has seen multiple Rotaract Clubs throughout his journey. As a proud host of the M2R 2022, Andrea is looking forward to welcoming fellow Meds and Rotaractors in Senigallia, Italy.

***Keep on reading to find out more.***

Naturally, firstly, we asked Andrea to introduce himself.

A: My name is Andrea Serrani and I am 30 years old. My birthday (for those who wish to take notes) is on the 16th of April and I am currently working in the Italian Postal Service company. I joined Rotaract back in 2016 and my Rotaract journey has been rather unusual. 

Let’s take a step back, I first heard about Rotaract in 2015. Since my father was a Rotarian, I was encouraged by him to join Rotaract. So, I got accepted into the Club of Tolentino and I have been very active in it, taking many positions since then: I was the Secretary, Prefect, Vice President and President for two years straight.

At the start of my second year, I decided to leave the Club of Tolentino (due to disagreements, let’s say) and nowadays, I am a member of Macerata. But despite our past arguments, I think I still need to be grateful to my first club, because they were my first contact with Rotaract. After six years, here I am, so I need to thank them as well.

L: So, how did you get to know Rotaract Mediterranean?And why did you choose to be a CR of Rotaract Italy and how did you make that happen? Also, What do you feel about being the CR of the M2R host this year?

A: My first contact with the Med was in the summer of 2020. Alessandro Ferretti, a friend of mine, at that time was the Incoming District Representative and he told me that the Rotaract Mediterranean was looking for journalists. He knew about my passion for writing and that I was a part-time journalist in the past, So he told me to try and apply, and see what happens. After a while I got accepted into Rotaract Mediterranean and my journey began. 

It was one of my favorite experiences, I got in contact with so many people outside the national side of the Italian Rotaract and I liked it very much. Then the next year I was Alia’s second in command, but due to her workload, I became the Editor-in-Chief of MedTimes during the middle of the Rotarian year, stepping in. It was an interesting journey, to say the least. 

And now, after this experience with MedTimes, which allowed me to meet all the people in the Mediterranean, the Board and CRs, I proposed myself to the Italian District Representatives to be the Country Representative in the Mediterranean, which was a win-win situation for everybody involved: I wanted to get more involved in Rotaract Mediterranean and they were looking for a Country Rep for the year 2022-23.

Well now, it’s a big honor and also a big responsibility to be the CR of a Country that is going to hold an international meeting like the M2R. 

I’m not the chairman of the M2R HOC but I’m doing all I can to ensure that the planning of M2R goes smoothly. As a CR, I want to ensure that the communication between Rotaract Italy and Rotaract Mediterranean goes well. 

I also want to keep the Italian districts that are part of the Rotaract Mediterranean informed about all the activities, projects and challenges. For example, I’m going to share with my Districts the service challenges posted by our president. All in all, my entire experience in Rotaract has always been a big discovery. I don’t know what I’m heading into, but I want to head into it with a positive attitude. 

L: So can you maybe give us some spoilers about the M2R, some details about what we need to expect, especially for our readers and listeners? 

A: Well, you see , Senigallia is definitely not a big city in Italy. I think it has less than 50,000 citizens so you’re not going to have the diversity of a big city. But I think it’s very characteristic of our Region (Marche).

I love Senigallia, it’s a very people-friendly city and I think it will be a new experience for many Rotaractors: usually when you say Medicon or M2R you think of big international meetings, big cities, big locations. 

So you think of cities like Milan, Rome, Paris, Istanbul… I think this time it is going to be  different. You’re going to actually feel what it’s like on the other side of Italy, the side that is not publicized that much. That’s what we want you to live and see. It is like your typical Roman town, with a beautiful historical center, located along a river (the Misa River), flowing into the Adriatic, into the Mediterranean.

It’s also the first time that my District is going to host an international meeting. We are excited that we have started to host both national and international meetings: we are going forward as a District, and this is the next step. But anyway, I think that this is going to be an M2R like you’ve never seen before.

L: Wonderful! You can say that this M2R is going to be tailored as a whole experience! I’m looking forward to the M2R 2022! So now let’s move to another question. Do you have any suggestions to have better connections between clubs within the same country and within the same district?

A: Ok, I’m going to be a bit controversial here: basically, it is my opinion that Rotaract is facing a kind of crisis currently, maybe even before COVID. And I think that people are not investing their energy in Rotaract as much as before; our movement needs active Rotaractors, especially in my District.

It’s something that we need to work on but I think the solution for this is, if we put more active people in a single club, it will be better than having active people dispersed in different Clubs. 

This is my opinion, but I also think that Elevate Rotaract is an answer to these kinds of crises. 

But still, it’s not the number of Rotaractors that matters the most, it’s the quality. And I think that, as service soldiers, we should unite and create more opportunities to work together in order not to disperse. Anyway, this is the end of my controversial opinion (laughs)

L: Let’s now talk about some good sides of Rotaract. So what makes Rotaract special to you?

A:  I have to say, when I first joined Rotaract I was kind of skeptical about it. But If one works with the right attitude, if one does services with the right attitude, if one connects to people to create friendship within service, it makes Rotaract special. 

When I joined Rotaract, it was towards the end of my University education. It was like a midpoint in my life and entering into Rotaract opened up a new door for me to get to know more people, to be more active in bringing a positive change to our community, which is not an easy task.

For example, there is the Rotary Aid Campus, which takes place in my Region, more specifically in Jesi, in the Province of Ancona. We spend the day with people with physical and mental disabilities, we play with them, we do activities with them. It’s a ‘concrete’ activity, on the field, and it’s also kind of a humbling experience, because you see many people that are not as lucky as you are, they do not always experience the good heart of people around them, the good heart of people that want to help them. 

And this is the type of activity that I love: it also reminds us that life is unpredictable. Something can happen, anyway, anytime. And this teaches us to enjoy the time we have.

L: Yeah, I agree. Well, you know, one of the hard parts in Rotaract is now the financial crisis, because of what’s happening between Ukraine and Russia, the Euro (The currency used in Italy is the Euro) is not doing very well. So what do you think can motivate the members to join more into the activities? How can we contribute to their joining etc.? What do you think?

A: In my opinion, to make people join, it’s not only about the range of service activities. I mean, that is of course important. But what’s also important is that the people – Rotarians or Rotaractors – need actual leaders, people that can actually inspire others. 

These kinds of people are usually the people that end up being a District Representative or a President of an MDIO, be it Mediterranean or ERIC. But basically, I think that what drives people inside Rotaract is the drive of the people that lead Rotary and Rotaract. 

I mean, the activities are interesting enough as it is and we have a big group of people that want to make a lasting change to the world. But we can only do so much with our skills, with our money and with our time. What is important is the drive of people to lead people.

You can have the best proposal, you can have the best activities, but if you’re boring, nobody will follow you. I know this for sure, even if it might sound controversial. But if you have the attitude of a leader, people are going to follow you all the same, regardless of what you propose.

L: What would you like your legacy as a CR for Italy to be? So both in Italy and in Rotaract Mediterranean? What would you want to leave behind after this year? What’s your goal?

A: Well, my hope is that, at the end of this Rotarian year, more people in the Italian Districts will know more about our fantastic MDIO: usually, when I speak with Rotaractors, during national meetings, I tell them about the Mediterranean, and a lot of them don’t know precisely what the Mediterranean is, or how (exactly) the Mediterranean operates.

So my first step would be to get more people to know the Med better and maybe hope that I can get them to also love it and/or maybe (even) join Rotaract Mediterranean. I want to have an impact and encourage more Italian Rotaractors to join and serve with the Med.

You see, Italy is a particular Country, we are both European and Mediterranean; we are, in fact, a bridge inside the Mediterranean Sea, starting from the Alps and looking to Africa. 

I feel like we are torn between our ties to Europe and to the Mediterranean. Personally, I feel more drawn to the Mediterranean side. But I just hope to get more Italian people interested in joining the Med and get involved with North Africa and the Middle East. It’s always beautiful to see and discover new ways to carry on Rotaract, even if it’s something small: for example, the challenge that was posted some days ago. I hope that some people will actually do the challenge beside me, because (that way) you can get involved with the Mediterranean and you can do that even if you’re not part of the Board, even if you’re not a CR.

L: It’s always a pleasure to see Italians in Med as they are very active in events. So let’s just reflect this on the projects as well. There was a very huge crowd in Medicon this year, so more Italians are always welcome in the team and for the challenges. 

So Andrea, is there anything you would like to add apart from the questions before we wrap up?

**Spoiler Alert** 

A: We are probably going to see one of the founders of Rotaract Mediterranean in Senigallia during M2R. We had a meeting with the Hosting Committee, and he’s probably going to be there. But I’m not going to name any names (laughs).

***End of Spoiler***

In conclusion, Andrea’s Rotaract journey was not a straightforward one and it had many twists and turns. It is fair to infer that with each twist he learned more things to help him keep motivated and he turned the negatives into positives. His positive attitude and perseverance worked together to lead him into his past role as MedTimes Editor in Chief and ultimately his current role as CR. 

We thank Andrea for this greatly insightful interview and are looking forward to seeing him in Senigallia at this year’s M2R!

By Sirine Elloumi, Sarp Oktay, Anhal Kozhaya, Fouad Bou Ghader

Edited by Melis Leyal Gürel

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