Banerjee outlines emphases for the year
Top: RI President-elect Kalyan Banerjee greets the fourth plenary session before outlining his emphases for the year. Bottom: John Hewko, incoming general secretary, addresses the plenary session. Rotary Images/Alyce Henson
RI President-elect Kalyan Banerjee asked Rotarians at the 2011 RI Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, on 25 May to go back to their communities and think of “new and different ways” to take on the challenges of today.
“We are the doers of our communities, the leaders, the ones who are most involved, who see the problems and have the means to find the solutions,” Banerjee said. “I am asking you to reach within and unleash your inner power and then use it to embrace everything and everyone around you.”
Banerjee, who will take office 1 July, said Rotarians should be guided by three emphases -- the family, continuity, and change -- as they work to support the 2011-12 RI theme, Reach Within to Embrace Humanity.
Family is the first emphasis, he said, because the family is the starting point for everything Rotary is trying to accomplish.
“The family is the building block of the community,” Banerjee said. “If we wish to see a world that is more joyous, we first have to make sure that the families of the world are more joyous, that they have the things they need to be happy, to thrive, and move forward. So we have to look at housing, at clean water and sanitation, at health care, at all the issues affecting mothers and children.”
Continuity involves continuing and strengthening those things Rotarians do well, said Banerjee.
“There are so many areas in which we have been successful -- working for clean, safe water; spreading literacy; working in so many ways with Generation Next, our youth. And of course, our greatest project, polio eradication,” he said. “If we want to really achieve the impossible, we have to have not only persistence, but vision -- we have to be looking past what we are doing now, at what we can and should be doing in the days and years to come.”
Change is the third emphasis, Banerjee said. If Rotarians wish to achieve peace, reduce child mortality, prevent hunger, and stop environmental degradation, they must be the instruments of that change, he explained.
“We will need to think in new and different ways, explore new ways of seeing,” Banerjee said. “If we do what we have always done, we will get what we have always got -- nothing better, nothing more. This would not satisfy us professionally, and it certainly should not satisfy us in our Rotary service, where the stakes are so much higher.”
Hewko addresses plenary session
John Hewko, incoming general secretary, said one of his top priorities will be “to better connect Rotarians with the Secretariat, to increase awareness as to what the Secretariat can offer, and to make sure the Secretariat is an effective, efficient, and useful resource for clubs, so that clubs are able to grow and carry out the mission of Rotary.”
Hewko, who will take office 1 July, said the future of Rotary is bright.
"We will rid the world of the terrible scourge of polio -- we will rid the world of this terrible disease -- and then we will be bold and aggressive and identify and conquer the next big global challenge," he said. "We will redouble our public relations efforts to enhance our brand and image so that the world better appreciates and understands the great works of Rotary and the value of connecting through fellowship."
Also during the fourth plenary session, attendees were treated to a preview of the 2012 RI Convention in Bangkok, Thailand. The Host Organization Committee shared a taste of Thai culture, including a performance by dancers representing four regions of the country. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Past RI President Bhichai Rattakul, of Thailand, greeted attendees through a prerecorded video. A Bangkok-themed luncheon followed the plenary session.