Five good reasons to attend the Rotary Alumni Celebration
Top: RI President-elect Ray Klinginsmith (1961-62 Ambassadorial Scholar, USA to South Africa) addresses the 2009 Rotary Alumni Celebration in Birmingham, England. Bottom: Alumni from India enjoy networking at the 2009 alumni celebration in Birmingham. From left: Past District Governor Sarat Babu Chilukuri (2004-05 GSE team leader to Korea), Past District Governor K. Soma Sundera Sai (1980-81 GSE team leader to USA), Past District Governor Sam Movva (1993-94 GSE team leader to Canada, USA), and Past District Governor Gulam Vahanvaty (1977-78 GSE team member to USA). Rotary Images
Past Rotary Ambassadorial Scholars, Rotary Peace Fellows, and Group Study Exchange participants enjoy getting together at the annual Rotary Alumni Celebration for a variety of reasons. Here are the top five from those who attended the 2008 and 2009 events.
The Rotary Alumni Celebration offers an unparalleled opportunity to connect with other Rotary alumni and learn about their work in the world. "We want to stay in touch and keep international relations going to further peace and world understanding," says Jürgen Wente, a member of the Rotary Club of München-Land, Germany, and 1983-84 Ambassadorial Scholar to the United States.
It's also an opportunity to meet Rotarians from around the world. Wente notes that during the 2008 celebration in Los Angeles, members of the Rotary Club of Manhattan Beach, California, graciously provided homestays for 20 alumni from Germany.
The keynote address is always a highlight of the celebration, says Gulam Vahanvaty, a member of the Rotary Club of Mumbai Downtown, Maharashtra, India, and 1977-78 GSE team member to the United States.
The keynote speaker at the 2009 Rotary Alumni Celebration in Birmingham, England, was former World Bank executive and former Ambassadorial Scholar Jean-François Rischard, author of High Noon: 20 Global Problems and 20 Years to Solve Them . Following Rischard’s talk, panel discussions focused on key global problems and possible solutions.
"I came away feeling quite exhilarated at the opportunities that Rotary and Rotarians have to make a real difference in solving some of the world’s most intractable problems," says Peter Kyle, a member of the Rotary Club of Capitol Hill (Washington, D.C.) and 1973-74 Ambassadorial Scholar from New Zealand to the United States.
The RI Convention, which takes place just after the alumni celebration, offers exciting speakers, the House of Friendship, and social events. Keynote speakers at the 2010 RI Convention include Greg Mortenson, author of the international bestseller Three Cups of Tea , and Jo Luck, president and CEO of Heifer International.
"The Rotary Foundation invested in you, and this is an opportunity to learn about the many other programs and priorities of Rotary," says Past RI Director Ken Morgan, member of a 1977-78 GSE team from the United States to Denmark. "And the Montréal celebration will be a great event."
Similarly, the alumni celebration and alumni presence at the RI Convention remind Rotarians of the work being done by alumni, which reinforces the value of Rotary’s educational programs.
"The alumni celebration is an opportunity to provide Rotary leaders from around the world a focus on the importance of alumni," Morgan says.
Networking, speakers, and panel discussions are all among the key reasons to attend, says Johanna Schubert, president of the Rotary Foundation Alumni Deutschland (2005-06 Ambassadorial Scholar, Germany to Wales). But one of the best things about the alumni celebration, she says, is that "it's simply a lot of fun."
Others agree. "Once you have experienced the buzz of a Rotary convention and the alumni celebration, you will want to be associated with this extraordinary organization for the rest of your life," Kyle says.
Written for Reconnections