Thai royalty opens 2012 RI Convention in Bangkok
A royal appearance kicked off the 2012 RI Convention in Bangkok, Thailand, 6 May, where Rotarians gathered to celebrate past accomplishments and future friendships.
Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn represented His Majesty the King at the opening ceremony, thanking Rotarians for their good work around the world.
“I’m truly impressed by the unity of all Rotarians in devoting themselves to charity work in a spirit of selfless benevolence and dedication as befits Rotary’s own motto, Service Above Self,” said Princess Chulabhorn. “I am confident that your unwavering commitment and good intentions will reap due reward for our common cause.” (Read the entire royal address)
RI President Kalyan Banerjee presented the princess with a gift of appreciation. Flags of the 200 countries and regions where Rotary clubs serve their communities were presented on stage, followed by a performance of the national anthem of Thailand by Thai pop music star Tata Young.
In his opening remarks, Banerjee said Rotary is stronger today than it was at the beginning of his presidential term.
“I came into this year determined to make a difference, to leave Rotary stronger at the end of my year. And those goals were met,” said Banerjee. “But if there is one thing I have learned in this incredible year, it is that the changes that I have seen, the lives that have been touched haven’t been because of me. They have been because of you.”
Banerjee praised the Rotary projects that he and his wife, Binota, saw during their travels throughout the year, sharing how overwhelmed with pride and joy he was for their great work.
This year, Banerjee visited projects from New York to the newest Rotary country, South Sudan, where Rotarians from several countries are working with the government to build a multimillion dollar hospital.
He also highlighted the recent project partnership agreement between RI and ShelterBox, a grassroots Rotary club-sponsored disaster relief organization.
“We Rotarians pride ourselves on being the first to arrive when help is needed – and the last to leave. By partnering with ShelterBox, we’ll be able to do even more,” said Banerjee. “I hope this will be only the first of many project partners, as we look to expand our reach with more volunteers, in more places than ever before.” (Download Banerjee's and other convention speeches and reports)
Youth, social media vital to Rotary’s future
Banerjee said the best way to raise Rotary’s public profile and ensure its future is to bring in more young people.
“You only have to look around yourselves to realize that this is a problem we have to face,” said Banerjee. “Young people have to know what Rotary is, and why they should want to be a part of it.”
RI is already using social media like Facebook and Twitter to help spread the word. “More and more of our clubs are using these tools that excite and inspire and that are drawing in new members – especially younger members, who are so key to Rotary’s future,” Banerjee said.
The opening plenary session also featured a Thai cultural dance performance by Creative Destination Management, and the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra.
In other convention news:
- Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhan Boribhat took part in a dedication ceremony of a new playground at the Queen’s 60th Birthday Park. Rotary volunteers and more than 200 children participated in the event. Rotarians from Bangkok and the U.S. contributed $60,000 and volunteered to build the playground.
- More than 150 Rotaract club members from 23 countries painted, refurbished, and installed water purifiers at a middle school damaged by this year’s floods. Volunteers also planted trees in the playground area and organized the school library with 200 books donated by the Rotary Club of Patumwan.
Get the latest news, photos, and videos from Bangkok and read more about the convention in the Rotary Voices blog. Download Banerjee's and other convention speeches and reports.