Our speaker on this occasion is another Rotaractor turned eClub member. Jasper is an active member online for geographical reasons. John Isles our resident interivers digs into what Jasper likes about eRotary.
John: Jasper, can I start by asking you tell us a little about yourself:
Jasper: Thanks. I am Jasper Vethaak. I live in Germany, but I was born in the Netherlands. I left my country in 2004 and since then I’ve lived in Paris and several cities in Germany. I am 32 years old and live with my girlfriend in Düsseldorf. I work as a infrastructure manager for the German railway company Deutsche Bahn. I am responsible for the project management of renovations of railway stations, tracks, crossings etc. Railway projects are the only projects where you are simultaneously working with infrastructure existing often for more than 100 years and the newest high-tech. I am interested in railways in general. So my work is a bit of a hobby. I like travelling by train to go hiking in the Alps. From Düsseldorf only five and a half hours by ICE train, so it can be done in a day trip. Otherwise I am a wine and cheese lover. The last years I spent a lot of time for Rotaract and travelled to many Rotaract events everywhere in Europe and beyond.
John: What originally attracted you to Rotary?
Jasper: My first contact with Rotary was in 2000, when I was 17 years old. I was elected to go to the Global Young Leaders Conference in Washington in New York. That was quite an honour, but I didn’t have the funds to realise this trip. My headmaster was a Rotarian and he established contact with 2 Rotary Clubs, who supported my trip in the USA. Afterwards, I was asked to join Rotaract. From 2000 till 2014 I´ve been active within Rotaract in the Netherlands, France and Germany. Every country or city I’ve lived in, I visited the Rotaract Club. People that are open towards foreigners and supported local and international projects. It´s like family you haven’t met before.
A thing I disliked is the distance between Rotary and younger generations. (Younger) Rotaractors often treat Rotarians as kind of gods and hardly dare to speak with them on an equal level. There are a lot of impressive personalities within Rotary, but it has as well to do with a lack of interest in other generations of the Rotarians. Rotary and being a Rotarian should be more defined by service above self, less by prestige. This is a danger for Rotaract as well.
In my years as a Rotaractor I never thought that I would become a Rotarian soon, as I do not fulfill the cliches like being an old rich entrepreneur wearing cufflinks. No time and money for a weekly dinner meeting with dinosaurs. On the other hand I really appreciate the worldwide Rotary network and I feel I have the Rotary spirit. I liked the challenge of a foreign E.club. So far I have little experience with Rotarians in the UK. Maybe my dutch direct attitude might seem a bit rude sometimes, but I will be willing to adapt and learn of the british attitude. I like the british sense of humour. Becoming a member of Rotary eClub Click 4 Action is the best place within Rotary for me.
John: Is there anything our eClub should be doing that it isn’t doing?
Jasper: The first time I heard about eClubs a few years ago. It sounded to me a bit like Rotary Light. Well it is not, in an eClub it depends on how much effort you spend in Rotary on times it fits best. Having a email in a standard Rotary does often make less difference than an email in our club.
A special thing about Rotary is the worldwide network on a local basis. It is built on trust. Trust is built by communication. Every member should be involved in communicating with all other members. So far this is not happening on a level as it should be. Monthly online (non obligatory) meetings on fixed dates could enhance the community feeling. One offline meeting a year, where all members gather, would be a great opportunity to connect the human being with the online profile. Maybe defining a minimum activity level for members?
John: I know you are running our Balloon Race – How is that going?
Jasper: In the first weeks our eClub I was a bit sceptical an eClub is able to do community service and raise funds in a way I expected of a Rotary Club. But the balloon race actually shows you can gain funds for charity totally online, without being on site. It didn’t work immediately as planned, but what else does?
John: If time and money were no object what country would you most like to visit and why?
Jasper: I like the European continent I live in. A lot of different countries with a lot of different cultures, which is often underestimated. I haven’t been in Asia and Latin America yet. I like the mountains, so the Himalaya and the Andes would be my goals. The motto of Rotaract in Germany is ´Helfen Lernen Feiern´. Help, Learn and Celebrate. I want to continue to live this motto within Rotary. My long term goal within Rotary is to give chances as I´ve been given by Rotary.
John: Jasper many thanks for sharing with us and I am sure many eClub Members will understand your views on some of the older Rotarians.
Details of how to join in the 2015 Virtual Balloon Race can be found here. Come and join the fun and raise money for clean water for all.