Show and tell: From Kindergarten to Rotary International

May 2011
by Ray Klinginsmith, President, Rotary International

My wife, Judie, was a kindergarten teacher for many years, and she often told stories about her “show and tell” experiences, when each of her students was permitted to bring a favorite item to school, such as a pet or toy, and to tell the other children about it. There was always a sense of wonder as the children learned about their classmate’s prized possession.

Rotarians often share that same sense of wonder as they learn about the amazing service projects conducted by other Rotary clubs. In fact, there are so many Rotary service projects performed by our 33,000-plus clubs that it is truly impossible for anyone to track them. Many of them go unknown and unrecognized, except to their sponsor clubs, but the totality of such Rotary projects is clearly making the world a better place.

It is unfortunate that we cannot have a giant “show and tell” event where every club could tell the world what it does. We have grown much too large for us to even share the news of our countless service projects with our other clubs. However, the annual conventions provide an opportunity for several clubs, districts, and multidistrict organizations to display their projects in an effective way, and this month’s RI Convention in New Orleans will feature many outstanding projects in the House of Friendship.

The New Orleans convention will be a wonderful Rotary event, and I encourage all registrants to spend as much time as possible in the House of Friendship to meet new friends from around the world, to see the displays of Rotary projects, and to enjoy some great entertainment on the two stages. It will open on Saturday morning and be open for more hours than usual during the convention. And for those who cannot attend for more than one day, there is a new Saturday-only pass for $40 per person to sample the House of Friendship!

The convention also will give me a personal “show and tell” opportunity. I can show the base of a pillar, located in the convention center, that supports the giant highway bridge over the Mississippi River. It is the same bridge under which I sailed on a Lykes Line freighter on my way to the University of Cape Town as a Rotary Scholar 50 years ago. And I can, and happily will, tell everyone that it was a Rotary trip that has lasted a lifetime!

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