My Rotary Moment: Discovering Service

by Sakuji Tanaka, RI President

Every Rotarian is different. Every Rotarian was drawn into Rotary for different reasons, and many vividly remember their first “Rotary Moment” – the moment when they went from being members of their Rotary clubs to being committed Rotarians.

I love hearing these stories and learning about what drew each Rotarian into Rotary. For some, it was a Rotary office, a particular project, or a convention. For me, it was a speaker at an ordinary weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Yashio, about two years after I’d joined.

I am a charter member of my club, and I was invited to join by the charter president. I had never heard of Rotary, and at the time, I didn’t really know what service meant. But I was new to Yashio. I had just moved there from Tokyo, and I didn’t know many people. I thought Rotary would be a good way to make friends and to help my business, and I respected the person who invited me, so I joined.

But to be honest, for the first two years, we didn’t do much. Every week, I came to my meeting, I ate lunch, and I listened to a speaker. I paid my dues, and I gave money to The Rotary Foundation. But I wasn’t involved in any service. I didn’t know what Rotary service was supposed to be.

That all changed one week, when we had a speaker who talked about vocational service. This was a new idea to me. Until then, I had never thought much about the purpose of my life, or why I was in business. I was too busy working. I was always focused on my business, and on how to make it larger and better. I never stopped to consider any deeper purpose of my work.

Understanding the idea of vocational service completely changed my attitude toward my work, and toward my own purpose in life. I realized that the goal of a person doing business is not only to earn a living. The purpose is to be a contributing member of the community, to make the community stronger, and to help make other people’s lives better. When I understood this, and understood the concept of Service Above Self, it changed my life – and set me firmly on the path to a life of Rotary service. That is my Rotary Moment.

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About John Borst

John Borst’s career in education spans the years 1960 to 1996. During those 36 years, he spent an equal amount of time working int he English language, Public and Catholic school boards. Borst taught in both elementary and high school environments. Positions of responsibilities held included department head in Geography, curriculum coordinator of Social and Environmental Studies, Principal, Education Officer with the Ministry of Education, Superintendent of Schools, and Superintendent of Student Services. Borst retired in 1996 as Director of Education for the legacy Dryden Board of Education. During this time, Borst has lived in the Ontario communities of Brampton, Toronto, Newmarket, Thunder Bay, Aurora and Dryden. Currently, Borst splits his time between Dryden and Toronto. Since retirement, Borst has served as a Supervisory Officer with a remote School Authority; been a freelance writer of articles on education in particular for Education Today, the magazine of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA); founded and edited from 2006 - 2010 the Education blog Tomorrow’s Trust: A Review of Catholic Education; and from 2003-2010 was a trustee of the Northwest Catholic District School Board.
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