To My Readers,

It has been a long time since my last update, but I have not forgotten you, Rotary!

In fact, despite the lack of photo evidence, I have had a welcome return to my home District 7230. I’ve spoken to inbound scholars about giving Rotary talks, attended Rotary UN Day (where I met RI President Sakuji Tanaka, who spoke eloquently about peace from within), I’ve spoken to the Rotary Club of Larchmont and Rotary Club of Ossining, as well as Rotaract UN, which was exciting (as it was my first time at any Rotaract and my first time bringing friends along). I also attended the RC Larchmont holiday party and met with some district Rotarians, particularly interested in my goals and progress.

Rotary UN Day

And today, a good friend reminded me what it is that drives my achievements: love. Maybe cliche, but without love, I would never have gathered so much support or kept at it. I would never be able to face the challenges that lie ahead in Madagascar, the looming threats that the forests are projected to be fully destroyed in a single decade, the politics and the incredible people behind it, and the responsibility that comes along with being in a position unlike anyone else in the Madagascar community.

The Rotary taught me that being diplomatic is not about hiding the truth. It’s about telling the truth in a way that fully respects those that paved the way for¬†education to even be on the conservation agenda. In Madagascar,¬†time is far too critical and the challenges too integrated for critical advocacy alone to lead the luxury of change. And my hope is to become the kind of researcher that isn’t afraid to get muddy in the action.

That being said, I am currently pouring myself into plans to balance further academic research with social action. My respect grows every day for my heroes that have given their whole lives and hearts to Madagascar without the comforting assurance that every new step will work out for the better. I still have so much to learn from them, and with continued love for Madagascar, I am ready to keep trying.

My heart belongs to you, Madagascar. Hope to see you soon!

Daniella