From Our Own Correspondent
Wow 20,000 Rotarians
Sunday – started well with the RI Convention buses not turning up, so to the metro, in time to arrive for the first plenary session. Fado music beautifully played and sung to us, then the parade of all the countries flags from every country that has Rotary. Followed by an excellent speech from our RI President about the dream he had from the age of 6 in 1945 to see a world living in Peace, it was very inspiring.
After looking around the House of Friendship (HOF) we went to the Interfaith Service, beautiful singing by the convention choir. The different faith readings were very spiritual and lovely to reflect on. Back to the HOF where we spent the rest of the afternoon. Then went to find tram 28, to ride up and down the streets of Lisbon, before ending a fantastic day eating food on the pavement watching the ships go by.
I designated this day as ‘learning and reflecting on how we can help towards peace in our world’
Day 2 started with the induction of our member Ed in the House of Friends, this was very exciting and Ed was so pleased to become a Rotarian (see picture)
In the first plenary session, the RI General Secretary told us about changes in Rotary including the public and internal changes to our RI website to be launched in August. Lehman Gbowee 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate was a very inspiring speaker, telling us about her childhood and how she learnt about doing community cohesion and the need to be a melting person all around the community, helping where required and sharing love. Emmanuel Jal a child soldier followed this with his story of the love of killing, changing to a peace maker because of education and now through schools and songs he can spread the message of peace.
Lehman Gbowee – so inspiring
Emmanuel Jal -boy soldier very inspiring about Peace
The afternoon proved a disappointment the breakout sessions were not good, but I continue to meet really exciting Rotarians who are what Rotary is all about.
Day 3 – We started the day with an E-Club Breakfast
It was interesting listen to E-Clubs present from all different parts of the world and we made some good contacts. It did show that we in our eClub were doing things OK and perhaps we are more advanced than we think.
The Plenary session was a disappointment, we need to learn in Rotary how to inspire people better in respect of the Foundation, it does a tremendous job and people need to understand what it can achieve. The first breakout session. ‘Thinking Out Side of the Box – someone telling us very poorly how to use Social Media and the other person how to get Happy Rotarians, was not good!
Meeting the people was the best part in the House of Friendship
Strengthening Rotary breakout session, the best so far and really exciting. I took lots of notes and we will write a programme about it later in the year, it was all about how Rotary is going to brand itself in the months to come, watch out for the new Rotary website in August this year.
So what is Rotary?
After this session we met some really excited Russian and Swedish E-Clubbers, they were so pleased to meet up with us, yes our day was getting better.
Day 4 was the best of all
Morning plenary was good and stimulating, messages I picked up were making sure we use stories to connect people to the needs in our communities. It is important that Rotarians use their heads working with their hearts, particularly in respect to saving our world’s environment and nature will do the rest.
Story telling to make an impact
For me however the meeting Rotarians remained the best thing we were getting from the convention, people who were wanting to see change in ‘what we do’, ‘how we do it’ and ‘why Rotary must change’. The word empowerment was used throughout the day by the leadership and working in partnership, so now we need to ensure this happens throughout Rotary like a stick of rock.
Meeting people from all around the world Mark Wallace from Australia
As I hand over the President chain to Janice, my final thoughts are:
What I do think we can draw from what we already do in our eClub is to build on the passion of our Rotarians, for that passion will really help develop the projects that are needed in our world. What came over very clearly was for sustainability we needed to work in partnership, not doing to communities, but doing it with them. For me the final message of the breakout sessions was we need to embrace the whole Rotary family in all we do, to that end myself and Janice have made some good links with E-Rotary world-wide to ensure we can develop partnership projects, particularly in the area of E-wareness.
I come away convinced that is important in our E-Rotary that we continue to build our membership, continue to do what we have already started and build on it, above all the international side of Rotary will enable us to continue to make the theme Peace through Service a reality in the years to come.