Sasha Katzalay; outbound exchange student to Japan in 2010-11 was awarded a Paul Harris Fellow by her sponsor Rotary club, Port Townsend Sunrise, for her continued support of Rotary and Rotary Youth Exchange. Sasha is a member of her University Rotaract club and has for years participated as a facilitator at the Outbound Orientation and served as a panel member on District Interview teams for future RYE students. She epitomizes what we as Rotarians hope to see our young people strive for in the world of Rotary. Because of Sasha’s dedicated efforts on behalf of Rotary her sponsor club presented her with this award in August of 2016. It was an overwhelming surprise to her, but a well-deserved award.
Sasha is pictured here with Ana; inbound student from Brazil 2016-2017
To read her complete story; 
The year was 2009, a young girl in the Victoria BC Canada area wanted to go out on exchange, and she wanted to go out on a Rotary Exchange because she had heard how the Rotary program was one of the best around. At that time there were no clubs in the greater Victoria area that were involved in the Youth Exchange Program.
Samantha  (now Sasha) Katzalay contacted the district committee in District 5020 and made her wishes known. Several people including the district chair, Becky Fontaine, as well as the Asia Country Officer, Jayne Neu, got involved to try and make an exchange work for this young lady. The problem was that she couldn’t be sponsored in the traditional way. Without a local club to do her initial interview, the Canadian Club Coordinator, Bill Ritchie, began reaching out to local clubs to see what could be done.
After several attempts to get a club on board without success Bill arranged to have a panel interview Sasha and it was determined that she would make an excellent candidate. Something special had to be done. Bill reached out to a U.S. Club, Port Townsend Sunrise, in Port Townsend, Washington that was not sending a primary candidate but was receiving an inbound student, to see if they would “adopt” her. Since this was Jayne Neu’s home club the answer was easy. YES!
Sasha went onto the district interviews in December of 2009 and was offered an exchange to Japan…her dream country! So, Sasha began preparing for a year away. In March of 2010 she traveled to Port Townsend to meet her adopted club and gave a presentation about herself and spoke some very convincing Japanese.
Fast-forward to Friday, March 11 2010…the earthquake that rocked Japan and caused the devastating tsunami. Emails and phone calls going back and forth to ensure our student was safe. She was fine, but her host district was in panic mode and wanted to send all of the hosted students home early for their safety. Except Sasha did not want to leave. She wanted to stay and help out her adopted country and adopted family. After a lot of communication and with some reluctance from Sasha’s mother it was decided she could stay.
Sasha completed her exchange and returned home in the summer of 2011 with a lot of stories to tell. Again Sasha visited her host club, Port Townsend Sunrise to make a presentation on her time in Japan and to thank them for their generosity in helping her fulfill her dream.
Sasha completed high school and entered University of Victoria where she joined the Rotaract club. She has participated in many of the clubs fundraising events and has returned to Japan twice to help with service projects.
Some of the activities Sasha has taken part in while in Rotaract were organized through Rotarct either by in-club activates or outside of meetings.
  • Story Studio literacy project- typing children’s hand written stories to be printed, bound, and returned; the aim was to promote literacy among young children
  • Downtown Victoria Rotary club- Sock drive for Our Place Shelter
  • Cakes for Rotary- cake making for auctioning at Rotary clubs
  • Soap for Hope with Disaster aid Canada- reprocessing soap & shampoo product from hotels to create hygiene kits for local shelters and overseas. Our batch went to Thailand
  • Volunteering with DLTA 2014 and 2016
  • Also as the head of the International Projects committee, Sasha organized a project where they sold handmade cards to buy animals for rural villages, all proceeds going to Feed the Children Canada
Sasha has continued to help the Youth Exchange Committee with interviewing potential outbound candidates, mentoring both inbound students and outbound students.