When Sierra Allen, a junior at Grantsville High School, joined the Tooele Valley Rotary Club in 2009, she wanted to go with the organization on its annual trip to Mexico. Three years later, she’s never been there.
But because of her connections in the Rotary Club, she’s instead headed for Honolulu,, Hawaii later this month to present a message of peace as one of four youth ambassadors from Utah.
“I have realized that if I set my mind to something, anything is possible,” said Allen. “You always have control over your goals.”
At the beginning of last October, Allen heard about the Utah Rotary Youth Peace Ambassador Competition. The contest would require her to make a video on their movement of peace.
“They asked us to make a video to get people’s attention — to get people aware of the world around them,” said Allen.
“I focused on how we have a lot of opportunities to succeed in our dreams and yet a lot of people don’t. Because of the opportunities that we have, we need to help other people achieve their dreams — not just our own.”
After submitting her video, Allen was interviewed by a panel of judges near the end of October from the Utah Rotary Club. Walking out, according to her, she had a good feeling.
“They told us that the winners would be posted that night by 11 p.m. or so, so I was checking my e-mail about every five minutes.” said Allen. “I was glad to be going — I’ll be missing a lot of school, but I’m willing to work extra hard and plan ahead.”
The competition was available to all participants in the Rotary youth organization called Interact. Allen heard about it through her involvement in leadership conventions and through her friendship with Mike Wells, the Utah Rotary Youth Generation Chair. He and his wife will be accompanying Allen and the three other ambassadors from Utah. “It has been a big help to know the chair for Utah,” said Allen. “I heard about the competition before many other kids in Utah, and he has helped to organize all the logistics.”
The convention will run for eight days from Jan. 23 to Jan. 30. During that time, the Rotary Club forum will meet with representatives from all over the world, including Interact representatives. Although not all 50 states have funded the competition, there will be many other youth representatives from other states, said Allen.
“Though we don’t quite know everything that’s going to happen yet, there will be forums in two hours sessions with Rotary leaders from around the world,” she said.
The four ambassadors, who will be part of the forums, will give their own musical presentation on peace in one of the sessions.
“We’re going to do a dance or singing number. Music is the universal language, and we really want to bring everyone together through it,” said Allen. According to Allen, the Rotary Club has changed her life for the better.
“It’s brought me out of my shell. I’ve had to talk in front of 100 people when I’m normally really shy,” she said. “They’re the type of people that bring in others and care for them.”
More than anything, according to Allen, Rotary Club has given her experiences that otherwise she never would have dreamed. “Because of Rotary, I have become interested in foreign cultures, languages and issues,” she said. “It’s made me more open to those types of things, and made me want to study International studies in college. It’s given me the chance to meet so many people and to travel.”