This story was inspired by a ride taken with Bob Macdonald while I was the Youth Exchange Officer.
IS IT THE TRUTH - The 'ride' began the day I made my commitment to serve as the Youth Exchange Officer for my Rotary Club. It would be a steep uphill learning curve to get up to speed and be prepared to host our first Rotary Youth Exchange student at the end of August, 2012. Navigating the bends in the road was made easier by carefully following the guidelines given by Bob and his experienced team. Some of the obstacles were straight forward and  easy to conquer just by pedaling steady and following the shared truthful guidelines. Many challenges were over the hill and could not be anticipated. The best offense was always the truthful experiences and guidance offered by the more experienced riders who had a wealth of wisdom.
When Riding with Bob an egalitarian sense of trust soon developed. The Youth Exchange Officers were entrusted to guide and direct the good choices and decisions that the Rotary Youth Exchange Students would need to embrace. It was important for all to learn that there was a shared purpose in the culture emerging during the course of the year. It became a family bike ride with Bob at times racing ahead but often falling behind to give encouragement to not only students but more likely offering loving and fair guidance to the Youth Exchange Officers knowing that healthy growth can only flourish through a message of kindness.
-  Riding with Bob was an opportunity to grow and develop another aspect of my personality by acquiring new skills and gaining resources to meet the challenges of the ride. Bob knew that the inexperienced Youth Exchange Officer in a small club would need  to quickly get up to the same level and speed as the seasoned Youth Exchange Officer in a much larger club. Bob always showed great respect with his encouragement, as he knew that his Youth Exchange Officers could meet any of the unforeseen challenge with a creative response that built on the friendships developed in the Rotary Youth Exchange family.
WILL IT BE BENEFICIAL TO ALL CONCERNED - In the beginning, riding with Bob seemed to be limited in the scope of responsibilities in my role as the Youth Exchange Officer for my club. I learned the expectations and followed through with the new skills that I was gaining; this was an 'on the job' experience that became richer based on seeing the good  and celebrating the successes of the Rotary Youth Exchange Students. Little did I realize that the relationships with students would extend for years after the students year in District 7870 came to an end. A recent e-mail last Sunday began, "Hey David, I just arrived in Boston (from Japan). I would love to see you guys." Riding with Bob always had this larger mission in mind; that all who volunteered in the Rotary District Youth Exchange would experiencing enriching lifelong memories and mutually beneficial relationships.
The ride goes on with a new leader.
Best Wishes to Jim in the year ahead,
Many Thanks Bob, you have given your humanity to 'Building Good Will and Better Friendships and Enhancing Peace in the World. What a Legacy!
Sincerely - David Countway - Past Youth Exchange Officer
Alton Centennial Rotary  September - 2017