My cup of tea
I just returned from a vacation and was pleased to see Greg Mortenson on the cover of The Rotarian [April]. I have been an admirer of his since I read his book. He is a living example of what we are called to do as Rotarians, and as humans.
Mortenson was basically a mountain bum (like a ski bum or a surf bum) who, by accident, was exposed to children drawing in the dirt with sticks in 30-mile-per-hour winds. When he realized that this was their school, he decided to do something about it. With nothing but a dream, and no knowledge of how to accomplish it, he threw his energy into building his first school in the war-torn areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Now, more than 140 schools later, he is changing the world for millions of people. I am so proud of Rotary clubs for their support of Mortenson financially, and of Rotary International for its publication of his story. He is a reminder that sometimes you have to decide to do something and go for it. If he had stopped to think about all of the roadblocks – political, financial, and cultural – it would have been overwhelming, and a lesser man would have walked away.
Thanks, Rotary, for helping to educate all of us through the outstanding article and interview with Mortenson.
Albuquerque, N.M., USA
Thanks so much for mentioning the Veterans Project of the Rotary Club of Catalina (Tucson), Ariz., USA, in your April sidebar, “Serving the troops at home.” I’m writing to let you know that we have sample clips from some of our World War II veteran interviews on the club’s website, www.catalinarotary.org.
Tucson, Ariz., USA
The Rotarian printed an interview with the new president that was titled “Ray of hope” [March]. The article was immensely important, especially his mention of Rotaract and Rotarians’ involvement with Rotary. However, we cannot forget the importance of Interact clubs, of which there were 12,224 in the world with 281,152 members as of September, and still growing.
We must get young people in the intermediate grades through high school educated on what Rotary is all about. Students at these ages are very impressionable. If they’re involved in Rotary before going to college, they may want to stay involved while in college. Being a part of the Rotary family’s youth service clubs will encourage the growth of Rotary clubs nationally and internationally. We have to open our minds to the future involvement of our youth and continue the growth of Rotary.
Easton, Pa., USA
Nazareth, Pa., USA
Listen to this
“Lend me your ear” [Management, March] made some good points about the need to listen, but most have been said before. Conversely, something needs to be said about the need to be a considerate conversationalist. Unless you have the podium, don’t make speeches. Answer a question once, not every way you can think of. In conversation, don’t change the topic; especially don’t change the topic several times without a pause.
Honaunau, Hawaii, USA
Thank you for the wonderful and heartfelt article in which we were mentioned [“Romance and Rotary,” April]. We have had many personal responses to this and smile at each other every time.
A side note is that because this was a second wedding for each of us, we asked for donations to be made to The Rotary Foundation in lieu of wedding gifts – and raised over US$7,500. It was a blessed event then and will be a part of our Rotary folklore forever.
We are so proud to be Rotarians and thrilled to be working on an international project together, bringing world peace and understanding a little bit further along.
Jamison and Warren Kaufman
Carmel Valley, Calif., USA
In “Romance and Rotary” [April], I was dismayed and disheartened to read that an incoming female club president would end every meeting with “This is not your father’s Rotary club.” The fact that a few members left the club should have been a strong signal as to how offensive this parting shot is to any number of people, female or male. What a negative theme.
When I became president of the Rotary Club of San Diego, I was grateful that our 550 members respected and revered the work that men had done in the first 75 years of our club’s history. They are the fathers and grandfathers who gave us the legacy of Rotary and encouraged its principles, values, and ethical standards. Our first Legacy Luncheon was a huge success, celebrating the extraordinary accomplishments of those men who worked so hard to establish our club. The fact that we now have 100-plus female members fully integrated into all club activities is a testament to the strength of Rotary.
I have been a Rotarian since 1987 and can assure you that I am proud to be part of this legacy. We women got to the party late, but we have our men to thank for their collective decades of work, paving the way for all of us.
Geri Ann Warnke
La Jolla, Calif., USA
Say it with pictures
Contrary to the letter writer who denigrated the comic-book style as a way to tell about Paul Harris [April], I learned more about him in that spread than I had in 25 years in Rotary, while attending 17 RI conventions.
Aurora, Colo., USA
The cartoon (I prefer “graphic novel”) format of “The remarkable Mr. Harris” [December] was superb. Excellent writing and illustration, and a great editorial decision to commission it in the first place. It was great.
Brian D. Liddicoat
Watsonville, Calif., USA
As I pondered Building Communities – Bridging Continents, the theme that RI President Ray Klinginsmith penned to tickle the minds of Rotarians, I was amazed by the thought and the deep meaning that the theme holds for the Rotary year ahead.
Social scientists believe that community ensures security and freedom – i.e., “the members of the community become free enough to share and secure enough to get along.” This is a strong form of “social capital” (as another social scientist, Robert D. Putnam, puts it), which unfortunately is disappearing from our society.
Putnam quotes research that reveals the depleting social capital in the United States over the last 25 years. Attendance at meetings of community groups fell by 58 percent, family dinners are down by 33 percent, and visits to friends’ homes have fallen by 45 percent. Isn’t it the same issue that we discuss day in and day out in our Rotary clubs? We lament the absenteeism. We nostalgically remember the great times that we used to have 20 years back.
Ray Klinginsmith could not have expressed this growing concern about depleting social assets more aptly than through the theme he chose, since it is Rotarians who are keeping this vital social capital alive.
The need today is to rebuild this capital and revive the community feelings amongst ourselves that can only ensure a secure, safe, and healthy world for our children. The challenge for all of us in Rotary is to step out, call up a friend and definitely a Rotarian friend too, and ask for a cup of coffee or a family dinner together. Let’s ignite the spirit of camaraderie – of a strong community of like-minded people working together for a common cause, and bridging continents to bring the people around the globe together.