Rotarians leave Bangkok encouraged to fight poverty and finish the job of eradicating polio
Top: RI President Kalyan Banerjee and RI President-elect Sakuji Tanaka during the closing plenary session. Bottom: Ron D. Burton, 2013-14 RI president, and his wife, Jetta, are introduced during the fourth plenary. Rotary Images/Monika Lozinska
Rotarians and friends left the 2012 RI Convention in Bangkok, Thailand, energized to keep up the fight against polio and to use their ingenuity to help reduce global poverty.
The four-day event, which drew to a close Wednesday, attracted more than 35,000 attendees from 181 countries and geographical areas and included a celebration of two major milestones in the global polio eradication effort.
Attendees were also treated to a preview of the next RI Convention, which will take place 23-26 June 2013, in Lisbon, Portugal. Register now.
In his closing remarks, RI President Kalyan Banerjee reminded Rotarians that “what’s important in Rotary isn’t what we say. It’s what we do, and who we are.”
“There dwells within you the power and spirit that can evoke the energy you may not realize,” Banerjee said. “You have to be hungry enough to reach within and release the energy to help you embrace humanity. I believe this is the state we call happiness. I have just given you the prescription for it. Rotary can help you achieve happiness in life that you seek.” Download Banerjee’s closing address.
Peace through service
Incoming RI President Sakuji Tanaka outlined his plans for his term, which begins 1 July. Tanaka will ask Rotarians to achieve Peace through Service.
“Through service we learn that the problems that may seem large to us are really very small,” said Tanaka. “We learn empathy for others. We come closer to people who seem very different from us. And we begin to understand how much we are all the same.”
“Through our Rotary service, we know that cooperation is more productive than conflict,” he said. “We know that every one of us has something to give, and everyone has something to teach.” Download Tanaka’s speech.
Delegates elected nominee Ron D. Burton, of the Rotary Club of Norman, Oklahoma, USA, as the 2013-14 RI president during the fourth plenary session earlier in the day.
“I am both honored and humbled to accept the nomination of president of Rotary International,” Burton said in his acceptance remarks. “I take a tremendous amount of pride in being a Rotarian. To me, Rotary isn’t just another service organization. It is something different, something special.”
Burton says the best years are still to come for Rotary. He emphasized RI’s Strategic Plan as the tool to make that happen.
“The plan is a way to look clearly at who we are, where we are going, and how we should get there,” said Burton. “It’s a powerful reminder of our goals and priorities, which at their heart are the same as they’ve been since Rotary was founded.” Download Burton's speech.
Jose Ramos-Horta, president of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, talked about his country’s struggle to achieve peace. He told Rotarians that peace can be difficult but, with the right people in place, it’s attainable.
“Peace is a process — sometimes a long one, too long. It can be a formal political process,” said Ramos-Horta. “But to be sustained we have to deal with human beings as individuals, as communities, as people with traumas, emotions, and anger, but also with hopes, hearts, and feelings.”
Earlier in the session, Banerjee honored clubs and districts with the Changemaker Award and the Presidential Citation.
The Changemaker Award recognizes clubs that made an extraordinary impact during 2011-12 through the Avenues of Service. The Presidential Citation recognizes achievements related to membership development and contributing to The Rotary Foundation.
During the fourth plenary session, General Secretary John Hewko outlined five priorities for the Secretariat to get Rotary on the best footing possible to embark on its second century. These included eradicating polio, implementing the Strategic Plan and Future Vision, finding an effective way to track and demonstrate the value of the service provided by Rotarians, increasing membership, and bringing Rotary into the ranks of major players in the world of global humanitarian assistance and development. Download Hewko's speech
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