Montréal convention inspires, entertains
RI President John Kenny and his wife, June, embrace during the closing plenary session at the 2010 RI Convention in Montréal, Québec, Canada. Photo by Alyce Henson/Rotary Images
More than 18,000 Rotarians from 154 countries and geographical areas left the 2010 RI Convention in Montréal, Québec, Canada, on 23 June after being challenged to finish the job of eradicating polio and reminded that their efforts are making a difference, even when the results aren’t immediately apparent.
"Your commitment to Rotary service projects is critical, but you may seldom have the opportunity to hear the details of the impact," said Jo Luck, president of Heifer International and a member of the Rotary Club of Little Rock, Arkansas, USA. "But always know you have made a difference."
During four packed days of plenary and breakout sessions, Rotarians attending the convention were privy to an impressive lineup of speakers, including Luck; best-selling author Greg Mortenson, cofounder of the Central Asia Institute, which builds schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan; Bob Mazzuca, chief scout executive of the Boy Scouts of America; and country music singer and philanthropist Dolly Parton.
Attendees were also dazzled by a variety of entertainment acts, including the Irish singing group Celtic Thunder, known for its combination of soloists and ensembles; the daring acrobatics of the Cirque du Soleil; and the soaring vocals of tenor Russell Watson.
Parton entered the stage singing her hit song "9 to 5," and thanked Rotary for partnering with her foundation's Imagination Library to promote children’s literacy. She engaged in a comedic question-and-answer session with Rotary Foundation Trustee Vice Chair John F. Germ before finishing with a song she wrote for the Imagination Library called "Try." Read more.
Mazzuca noted the long relationship between the Boy Scouts and Rotary, and stressed the importance of giving children viable and healthy alternatives amid the array of choices -- many unhealthy and downright dangerous -- facing young people and families today. He noted the many similarities between The Four-Way Test and the Scout Law. Read more.
Queen Noor of Jordan praised Rotarians for their work in promoting world peace and building global coalitions, and said Rotarians have pioneered the type of collaborations necessary to make a difference in the world. She said that the environment and nuclear weapons pose the biggest threats to world peace, and shared the work of her foundations in promoting international understanding and goodwill. Read more.
Bruce Aylward, director of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative at the World Health Organization, encouraged Rotarians to share the "terrific news" that polio is on the run, and that Rotary’s vision of a polio-free world is within sight. "You have fundamentally changed the polio eradication game, and you have changed it in your favor." Read more.
Polio survivor Ramesh Ferris, a member of the Rotary Club of Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, hand-cycled from the Palais des congrès to Bonsecours Market in Old Montréal for a ceremony to illuminate the landmark with En finir avec la polio (End Polio Now), adding it to a growing number of buildings and monuments that have been lit up with the message.
Mortenson encouraged Rotarians to keep working to make the world a better place and thanked Rotary for its efforts to eradicate polio in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He stressed the similarities between how his organization works and how Rotarians operate -- the importance of building relationships and involving local leaders.
"All of us here, as Rotarians or honorary Rotarians, we are compelled to help people," he said. "The real key, and Rotarians do this, is that it’s not about helping, but it’s about empowering people. And when you empower people, then you can make a change in the world." Read more.
Father Marciano "Rocky" Evangelista, founder of the Tuloy Foundation Inc. and a member of the Rotary Club of Alabang, Metro Manila, Philippines, told Rotarians about the urgency of helping street children.
"Children in distress cannot wait," he said. "For you or me, what is a day or two? But for a child who is slowly being toughened and hardened by the harsh realities of the school of the streets, waiting is just a luxury that he or she cannot afford." Read more.