The Key – 16th June 2014

Next Week

Next Monday we will meet in the Restaurant at McKellar and given recent events and the upcoming changeover into the 2014 – 2015 Rotary year we need to consider, as a full club, a range of serious issues. While it is formally a combined Assembly Board Meeting, the participation of all members if requested.

Rotary International Convention 2014

The Rotary International Convention 2014 was held at Olympic Park in Sydney, mainly from Sunday June 1 – 4 was sensational with 18 000 delegates, mild weather and a great ‘feel’. From a chat on the special train with Texans, morning coffee with Nigerians, lunch with the Japanese and an afternoon wine with the Romanians, the Global Rotary family was on full display. Gungahlin was well-represented: Terry, Kiri, Liz, Geoff and I all attending and we met many fellow Canberrans as well.

Although the four days largely comprised a daily plenary session and a choice from 90 breakout sessions, there was plenty of time for relaxing in the House of Friendship and explore new ideas from clubs and projects across the globe.

The dedicated non-stop Rotary train service from Central to the Venue proved very efficient and comfortable and a great way to meet Rotarians from far and wide.

Day 1 Sunday was the Opening Plenary with remarks from the RI President, Ron D. Burton, the NSW Premier, Mike Baird and the Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who spoke very well, praising our tradition of service and volunteerism. His father, a Rotarian for 40 years, was in the front row. He pledged, on behalf of the Australian people, a grant of $100 million for Polio Plus.

The entertainment was provided by the NSW Public Schools Aboriginal Dancers and the Las Vegas-based, Aussie group Human Nature – 60 minutes of their renowned Motown music. This Plenary is always marked by tradition and pageantry and the Flag Parade brought before us the flags of the over 150 countries where Rotary is operating. (I was surprised to see Antarctica’s!).

On Day 2 Monday I used my free travel pass to commute to Olympic Park on the ferry, explaining as best I could as a fellow visitor, the harbour sights to the overseas delegates. The sun came out and as we strolled between the venues, we were bathed in lovely sunshine. This Plenary focused on practical programs in action – health projects, literacy, diabetes,

sanitation and links between sport and service. I attended a breakout on making meetings more fun, which was a little odd, and another on conflict resolution. That night was the orchestral concert at the Opera House – its sails bathed in an amazing light show.

Day 3 Tuesday was again warm and sunny and the Plenary brought wonderful news about the fight against polio, particularly in the Middle east and African countries. I then attended the luncheon for incoming Club Presidents before heading for home.
Day 4 Wednesday saw me back in Canberra but reports have reached me of an amazing closing ceremony full of colour and music. The 20,000 delegates were treated with beautiful music from the Ten Tenors and Marina Prior. Our new RI President Elect, Gary C.K. Huang from Taiwan, was introduced.
Attending a Rotary International Convention is an amazing experience and this is my third, after New Orleans and Lisbon. You meet so many people from all over the world and everyone is friendly happy to chat. The scheduled events are great but in each case, for me the highlight has always been The House of Friendship – the essence and heartbeat of Rotary.
Words & pics from Ian Foster