Foundation alumni reconnect at Ray’s Rotary Reunions
Top: Ray's Rotary Reunions kick off in Cape Town, South Africa, with the arrival of RI President Ray Klinginsmith (center); Rotary Foundation Trustee Chair Carl-Wilhelm Stenhammar and his wife, Monica (left); District 9350 Governor Shân Biesman-Simons; and Rodney Mazinter, chair of the reunions committee. Bottom: A gathering of Rotarians and alumni during the event. Photos by Trevor Wilkins
More than 350 Rotarians and Rotary Foundation alumni from 25 countries gathered for Ray’s Rotary Reunions in Cape Town, South Africa, 3-5 February.
Hosted by District 9350 (Angola; Namibia; South Africa), the event was designed by RI President Ray Klinginsmith, a 1960-61 Ambassadorial Scholar at the University of Cape Town.
“Ray’s Rotary Reunions gave alumni the chance to reconnect with an organization that meant so much to them in kick-starting their careers,” says Rodney Mazinter, chair of the reunions committee.
The first reunion, held on 3 February, reconnected former Ambassadorial Scholars who studied at the University of Cape Town and graduates of the university who spent their Rotary scholarship abroad. Attendees ranged from recent alumni in their 20s to 85-year-old Henry Kreh of the Rotary Club of Marathon, Florida, USA, the first Rotary Scholar to study at UCT.
“The gathering of so many leaders who have made a difference in communities across the globe through the help of Rotary was simply inspiring to me,” says Betsy Sutherland, a 2010-11 Ambassadorial Scholar from South Carolina, USA, studying at UCT. “The relationship we all shared enabled us to talk about goals and projects we felt were important to populations within the African continent.”
At the second reunion, UCT alumni were joined by Rotary Scholars who studied at any university in Africa and those from African universities who studied abroad. Former Group Study Exchange team members who were sponsored or hosted by Rotary districts in Africa also took part, joined by many Rotarians.
Throughout the reunions, attendees participated in instructive programs that included addresses by government and professional leaders who have made a difference in Africa. In addition to Klinginsmith, featured speakers included former South African President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate F.W. de Klerk; former South African Constitutional Court Judge Catherine O’Regan; Peter Kyle, a member of the Rotary Club of Capitol Hill (Washington, D.C.) and recipient of the 2009-10 Rotary Foundation Global Alumni Service to Humanity Award; and Francis Moloi, chief director of the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation. O’Regan, Kyle, and Moloi are all former Rotary Scholars.
“As I complete a circle in my life from being a Rotary Scholar at UCT in 1961 to being the RI president 50 years later, I have learned much about life from my visits to Africa,” Klinginsmith says. “I believe the reunions are a good learning experience for everyone.”
On the last two days, a Rotary projects expo gave clubs the chance to seek out partners and make connections to facilitate international service projects in support of Rotary’s Reach Out to Africa initiative. Launched in 2007, the initiative matches the resources of the Foundation and clubs in developed economies with needs in Africa. The projects expo was also open to alumni.
“I’m working on a project that will establish a library for a school located in an impoverished area of Cape Town,” says Sutherland. “As a result of [the initiative] and the projects expo, I linked up with a Rotary club who supports literacy in schools and has offered to help with the project.”
Former Ambassadorial Scholars number more than 41,000 worldwide, and the reunions were an experimental model that Klinginsmith hopes will be implemented by other universities in the future.
“Ray’s Rotary Reunions have been a highlight of my past year here in Cape Town,” says Sutherland. “It was filled with wonderful fellowship of Rotarians from all over the world and a celebration of what Rotary can achieve.”
Written for Reconnections.