International Assembly prepares incoming district leaders for challenges
Past RI President William B. Boyd (left) and RI President Wilfrid J. Wilkinson are just two of the RI leaders at the International Assembly who help teach district governors-elect about the challenges they may face in the 2008-09 Rotary year and how to meet those challenges.
As the 2008 International Assembly in San Diego, California, USA, drew to a close, 532 district governors-elect learned at this weeklong training event what challenges they may face in the 2008-09 Rotary year, which includes keeping a promise to eradicate polio and becoming catalysts for RI President-elect Dong Kurn Lee's emphasis on reducing the child mortality rate.
To accomplish his focus on reducing preventable deaths of children, Lee told the incoming governors that Rotary will keep the service emphases of recent years -- water, health and hunger, and literacy. To go along with his presidential emphases, Lee announced the 2008-09 RI theme of Make Dreams Real. (Watch a video of Lee's speech.)
"We will give children hope and a chance at a future," said Lee. "We will bring clean water to their communities and create sanitation projects that keep children healthy."
Many governors-elect were inspired by Lee’s vision. "I've been floating on air since the theme was announced," said District 7470 Governor-elect Janice Teetsell from New Jersey, USA. “I'm thrilled that we're talking about children. People outside Rotary can identify with this, giving us a great opportunity to help children in our communities, as well as around the world."
Furthermore, Foundation Trustee Chair Robert S. Scott outlined Rotary's US$100 Million Challenge, a three-year fundraising commitment to eradicate polio. It's the Foundation's response to a $100 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, awarded in November.
"Rotary promised the children of the world that we would eradicate polio," said Scott. "We must not forget our promise."
The challenge is the motivation Rotary needs to end polio, said Ogugua Nwankwu, governor-elect from Distrtict 9140 (Nigeria). "We can finally put polio into the history books."
District 1980 District Governor Urs Herzog (Read more about Herzog.) believes that "by eradicating polio, we truly will Make Dreams Real for children."
Assembly attendees also heard Foundation Trustee Chair-elect Jonathan Majiyagbe discuss the 2008-09 Foundation goals. These include supporting Your Foundation/Our Foundation, which asks large club and district foundations to share funds to help provide secure funding for the Rotary Centers for International Studies in peace and conflict resolution and support polio eradication.
Past RI leaders share keys to success
"Membership in your district will not grow or blossom unless some very necessary steps are taken," said Past RI President Cliff Dochterman during a plenary session on Wednesday. He stressed the need for incoming governors to make membership growth a focal point in the upcoming year. "Rotary's very survival depends upon it."
Past RI President William B. Boyd asked governors-elect to use the tools RI provides, such as PR grants and the Humanity in Motion material. "We have a wonderful story to tell, so let us make sure that we do."
Other topics featured during the International Assembly included proper stewardship, the Foundation’s Future Vision Plan, and vocational service.
Near the assembly's close, district governors-elect and their spouses showcased Rotary's true international flavor at International Festival Talent Night. Rotarians took the stage in colorful native attire to dance, sing, and entertain the crowd.
For the upcoming class of district leaders, the challenges are lofty and expectations high. But the training they received at the assembly will prepare them to help Make Dreams Real for all children. In turn, their success will pave the way for Rotary to leave an indelible footprint on helping to make the world a better place.