Secretary Tim shares his highlights in this week’s programme, week commencing 12th June, 2014.
Whilst attending the Lisbon Rotary International Convention in 2013, we were impressed with the Australian promotion of the 2014 RI Convention in Sydney. In a mad moment we booked as an idea to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary, ‘let’s have a trip of a life time Down Under’, and so our adventure started.
President Janice has put her thoughts and things she wants to share within the Members Forum this week, so please visit to catch up on these insights, I did mine as I went, on Facebook, so that people could share with me my insights as they were happening. So in this report I want to give a slightly different angle to things, as to why we both love Rotary and in particular the international network we belong too.
When travelling half way around the world, to be greeted on arrival at Singapore Airport by an unknown Rotarian from Switzerland, is a heartening experience. Our Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar Galina, who originally was a Rotaractor from Vladivostok and now a younger person who has joined Rotary in Singapore, had organised the President of her Club, Dr.Hans Jaeger, to meet us and tell us the arrangements for our stay in Singapore. It was wonderful to feel welcomed and things had been organised to get the best out of our brief stay. Later at our hotel we were to meet another Rotarian originally from Switzerland, Erich Schneider, also from the Rotary Club of Queenstown, Singapore (there are 22 Rotary Clubs in Singapore). Erich apologised that the weather might change to rain, there are no seasons in this country, just rain or heat! We were intrigued by his photograph of a car park pillar, a way of finding his car in the massive underground car parks over there, we did eventually find it and we were off on our sight seeing tour. Erich told us a lot about Singapore, for instance how they are developing land from the sea, turning urine into drinking water and other amazing things so that Singapore can become self-sufficient. The one good thing of this encounter was that we couldn’t go up the tallest building because of the weather, I hate heights! The evening got even better for meeting and learning more about international matters, we were off to China Town for a meal with Hans, Erich, Galina and some more Rotarians who were on their way to Sydney from Moscow and St. Petersberg, who had just arrived on another plane from London.
Thank you to our hosts in Singapore, we saw the sights, learned about the country, did some window shopping, visited Raffles, Janice got to go up the highest building while I stayed firmly on the ground and visited the Rotary Club of Bugis Junction meeting more Rotarian friends. We had a final evening with Erich, Pat (Erich’s lovely wife) and Galina. Our trip was made so wonderful, by the new friends we had made and the cultural learning we had achieved, yes Singapore is a place we love and will visit again.
Next stop Australia 12 hours later, plus an hour in a border control queue, and eventually we arrived in Melbourne. I forgot to mention the fiasco at the Singapore Airport when Janice wanted a role in a silent film, chasing the taxi down the airport road with her bag in it, nice taxi driver though who brought it back when he found it!
To be greeted by Rotarians Christina (a friend on Facebook) and her husband Ian (still to get a Facebook profile), was wonderful. A short journey to our Melbourne Hotel, with instructions about meeting Ian the next morning, again our Rotary network was ensuring we could relax and enjoy our stay. Thanks to Christina and Ian we were treated like royal visitors with time on our own, guided tours including the RAAF Museum, a trip to the wine valley and again learning about the Australian way of life and meeting their animals. I learnt also more from them both about the Rotary Youth Exchange programme than any seminar I have attended, this is something we should do as a Club and also within District 1100.
Our visit to the Rotary Club of Laverton Cook Point was a really good experience, as I was the guest speaker in regards to my ideas on Rotary Membership (see in the Members Forum the President’s comments of the talk), it was another opportunity to make new friends and sit with their District Membership Chair.
We were also surprised when our hotel phone rang and on the other end was our provisional member Angela Villamar. We arranged to meet her in Federation Square later in the week, where she told us about herself and family. Her passion is to help people who live in her home land in the Philipinnes, perhaps this could be something we do as a project in 2014/15. The only downside of our meeting was I was meeting another women who liked taking photographs, here I was in the centre of Melbourne with two manic women clicking the pictures and I’m camera shy!
Our stay in Melbourne came to a final conclusion by having an Italian Meal together in the Italian quarter of Melbourne, joining us Christina, Ian and President Rebecca of the eClub of Melbourne who we had become friends with in Lisbon last year. Next morning we flew on to Sydney.
Thanks to the yellow coated Rotarians who made up the very helpful RI Convention volunteer team, we were able to get information to reach our hotel, the Mason’s had landed in Sydney without too much hitch. What made our convention was the old and new friends we met, from all over the world, Geoffrey from Australia saying it was good to meet his Facebook Mentor, meeting up with eRotarian Ed Cox on the Disaster Aid Stand in the House of Friendship and Christine who we hope might join us.
Going to the RIBI Lunch and meeting Robert Tyson who was a volunteer in the RI Convention Team (he is a new provisional member who has joined us as part of our work with District 1190), meeting up with Mac Purcell the London District Membership Chair and meeting Rotarian David from Birmingham who was with his partner Joan Meek, who joined Click 4 Action eRotary as a provisional member whilst we were on the Ferry Bus back to Darling Harbour. We later had a wonderful meal with Joan and David in Sydney Harbour where we learnt more about them. If we are honest we found the Sydney Convention too spread out, unlike the last two we had gone to and this wasn’t helpful as I don’t think we met so many people, we didn’t even meet our own member Margaret until the last day. The highlights for me of the Convention were: Mr.Toilet (his talk about shit), I’d like us to develop some project around this work to bring more toilets to people; Michael McQueen about making Rotary relevant to today’s world; and a breakout session on Women and making Rotary more Diverse. We also enjoyed posting and following everything on Social Media, even to the point of encouraging someone back here in England to join eRotary at last.
Our last two days were spent looking around Sydney on our own enjoying the change in weather to rain. We saw the sights seen usually on television, did a lot of window shopping and Janice took loads of photographs, oh no! As we were now alone together we evaluated our experience and both agreed that we’d had a smashing 25th Wedding Anniversary Celebration Down Under with some wonderful friends new and old. We concluded that Rotary International is about the people who make it what it is, not the organisation, a network that can help you learn more about our world, its culture and how we can work together to make a difference. One last thought – we attended the dinner of the eClub One and sat with some lovely people from Colorado who were so interested in our Tied Up for Rotary Project, it made us exclaim, “Yes! eRotary is definitely part of the future and we are proud to be part of the pioneers helping to move this forward”.
Finally some information about shit, I believe we need to help eradicate this problem and enable everyone in our world to have the status symbol of a toilet.[youtube=://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmDtw4npb1g&w=560&h=315]