Current Rotary leadership has learned through PolioPlus that measurable transformational change for the benefit of human kind is possible.
The words of President Banerjee and incoming President Tanaka demonstrated that Peace is emerging as the next achievable change for the world starting with one person at a time from within each person.
A synchronistic moment occurred when I visited the House of Friendship booth of District 5100 from Oregon. I was accompanied by my rotary friend Will Ratliff from the Birmingham Rotary Club of Alabama.
The booth was promoting an amendment to the RI by-laws. The amendment proposes that RI create standing committees to facilitate the work of RI. One of those standing committees would be a world peace committee. This is exactly what we have done in District 5550 since 2005.
This moment will result in a collaboration amongst the district serving the Birmingham club, District 5100 and District 5550 towards districts throughout the world embracing the concept of peace through service, the theme of the incoming RI president.
It is clear that RI leaders will welcome this grass roots movement towards a more peaceful world through education, commitment and example. Each club in each district will contribute in their own way.
Will Ratliff and I, signed a document presented by District 5100 promoting an action group for world peace. Will’s father, Bill Ratliff jr and I began this world peace collaboration at the RI convention in Montreal in 2010.
The Jerusalem Rotary club stated in 1935, that the Rotary wheel towards world peace was set in motion in 1910 and will not stop until it is achieved.
In conclusion, my wife Brenda and I left the Thailand convention inspired and optimistic that world peace is possible when Rotarians pursue it relentlessly, first within themselves and then their service.
It was a pleasure travelling to Thailand with a group of Rotarians to attend the 2012 Rotary International Conference. We have become friends on the trip and enjoyed a wonderful conference.
The highlights of the RI Conference were the presentations by Dr Bruce Aylward of The World Health Organization who spoke eloquently about the end of polio in India in 2011, which was confirmed by a infection free year in early 2012!
The other highlight is always the Rotarians one meets from around the world!
What a wonderful experience! This was our fourth International Convention.
I was thrilled to hear the opening address of our President Kalyan Banerjee. He showed he was in tune with the changes that must happen in our organization so essential to its ongoing work; attracting younger members, creating a more diverse membership, as well as the increased use of social media. I am convinced now that change really is underway.
It was reassuring to hear during one of the breakout sessions that clubs can be VERY flexible in running their business in order to accommodate younger and prospective members.
Dr. Muhammed Yumas’ presentation was very powerful. His presentation on Microcredit and a proposal of a new social program based on microcredit principles to will enrich the lives of so many families in so many areas. This success would result in many achievements in the six areas of focus of RI to build a better world for all!
Finally I must tell you that the 500 or so volunteers were everywhere! Whether at the Impact Convention Centre, or at the shuttle busses, or sky trains, their help was invaluable……… their smiles and enthusiasm made our experience so much better……. and by the way, during a breakout session we heard that the selection of the volunteers began with only 70 or so applying, but when the request was posted on Facebook, several hundred came forth! This is a proof that social media is the way to go!
President Kalyan Banerjee in his closing remarks gave likely the best speech of his life on peace. It was obvious his theme of “Reach Within to Brace Humanity” was well thought out. His emphasis on peace “starts from within each person” and cannot be achieved by simply talking about it. I felt that our Rotary organization with our 1.2 million members likely was closer and better equipped to bring peace to the world than the United Nations was. We have no geographical borders, political considerations, nor religious restraints to get in the way of achieving peace with the Rotary 4 way test. Rotary has in fact quite a head start.
For me this convention, compared to New Orleans in 2011, proved to be very much a “working” opportunity.
First I was privileged to get a 90 minute one on one demonstration of ClubRunner 3 which is scheduled to be released this August.
Second I had an opportunity to be part of a focus group interview conducted by the firm which is advising RI on the redesign of its website which is about to get underway.
And of course I had the opportunity to learn what it is like to set on the other side of the podium first before about 300 attendees at the breakout session on “social media” and two days later before about 100 Rotarians on website design.
Although, I too was most impressed with the plenary speeches, especially, like Ed, Banerjee’s closing remakes, my most memorable event was attending the 7:00 am Rotary Leadership Institute’s (RLI) annual breakfast meeting.
The RLI is not an official program of Rotary International but rather an independent training program. Yet at least 5 past RI presidents were in attendance, as were six members of the current board of directors. In addition an equal number of members of the current board of trustees of the Rotary Foundation were present. This certainly is a ringing endorsement of RLI and demonstrates the high regard with which this organization is held within Rotary’s senior most leadership.
It was also special for District 5550 and Canada as earlier in the week District 5550 signed a agreement in principle to join the Prairie Division currently composed of the two Districts covered by Alberta and the Yukon Territory. This I learned with some pride meant all of Canada is now covered as a member of the Rotary Leadership Institute.