22 June 2010 -- District Governor-elect CarolAnn Jeronimo’s "can do" mobile was a hit during the End Polio Now illumination ceremony on 21 June at the Bonsecours Market. Jeronimo, a member of the Rotary Club of Woodbury Breakfast, New Jersey, USA, drove her decorated PT Cruiser to the convention on Saturday and was invited to be part of the lighting event. The vehicle is covered on every side with Rotary decals and messages, including a bright-red End Polio Now logo on the hood. Within minutes, the "can do" mobile, as Jeronimo calls it, was mobbed with people wanting to have their picture taken next to it. Read more, and see a photo . -- AG
Montréal’s mayor, Gérald Tremblay, said the 2010 RI Convention is the most important gathering in the city’s history. He also noted how the city and Rotary share many of the same values.
"Rotary is like a mini assembly of the United Nations," Tremblay said during the second plenary session on 21 June. "We are both international, and we both have a wide diversity of cultures."
Tremblay also raved about the video that RI President John Kenny and his wife, June, made two years ago to promote the convention, because it helped bring so many people to the city. "Thank you, John Kenny -- thank you very much for the kind words about Montréal." -- AG
21 June 2010 -- The annual RI Convention is our big chance to meet the family of Rotary in person. As we walk the convention halls, trying to find great Rotary stories to tell, we often hear about people involved in multiple Rotary programs -- Rotary Peace Fellows who became Rotaractors, for example, or Interactors who went on a Rotary Youth Exchange.
This year, we found Christina Dombrowsky. Not only is she a 2007-08 Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar to Argentina, but she has also been a Rotaractor in two countries and is highly involved in Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA).
"My scholarship was a phenomenal experience," says Dombrowsky, 25, of Del Ray Beach, Florida, USA. "Traveling abroad and having that network -- a family -- there to receive you, made me want to stay involved with Rotary forever, especially when I got home."
She joined Rotaract while still on her scholarship in Argentina, and in August helped charter the Rotaract Club of Delray Beach, which now has about 15 members. This is her second convention, having attended the 2009 meeting in Birmingham, England, and the preconvention Rotary Peace Symposium last year.
Dombrowsky calls herself a "medium staffer" (not a senior or junior one) in District 6930’s high school-based RYLA program. She also was a guest journalist for Rotary International News during this year’s preconvention events, sharing her International RYLA experience in Montréal.
Her one regret about her involvement in Rotary’s youth programs? "I didn’t do a Rotary Youth Exchange!"
I’m sure we’ll be following her story for years to come. -- JD
At every convention, there is so much activity to report on. This year, to capture what it’s like to be at the RI Convention, we’re shooting small videos. Many of the videos, shot by my colleague Arnold Grahl, have already been posted on Facebook. Watch them , and tell us what you think and what you’d like to see on the RI website or on Facebook. -JD
Rotarians are looking forward to seeing Montréal-based performance troupe Cirque du Soleil at the closing plenary session on 23 June. Many people may not know that Cirque du Soleil’s founder, Guy Laliberté, and Rotary share a common commitment: to provide clean water to those who need it.
"For many, access to water means breaking the cycle of poverty," said Laliberté, one of the guests at Saturday’s World Water Summit, organized by the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group. "Water is at the center of every single human issue in the world."
In 2007, Laliberté established One Drop , an organization dedicated to providing sustainable access to safe water. It has launched water projects in El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, with a three-pronged approach combining safe water technology, microcredit programs, and a social arts component aimed at raising community awareness about the importance of efficient water management.
In addition to Laliberté, water experts from nongovernmental organizations and experienced Rotarians shared their ideas and success stories at the summit. - JD
20 June 2010 -- Rotaractors joined swing dancers after the opening plenary session in a shim sham flash mob dance Sunday in a park about two blocks from the Centre Bell. The mob was conceived by Montréal Rotaractor Corina Paraschiv, who said her idea was to "get everyone from different cultures and different ages together to do something that might symbolize peace, and also to share our culture with jazz music and swing dancing together." The Rotaractors were taught how to shim sham by Canada’s swing dance champions and vice champions at St. George’s Anglican Church shortly before they joined convention attendees and amateur dancers on the Place du Canada to trigger the mob dance. -- AG
17 June 2010 -- On a soccer field at McGill University, perched high on a hill above downtown Montréal, Québec, Canada, 17 International RYLA youth participants tried to figure out the fastest way to pass a koosh ball between them and then have it drop to the ground. It took several tries, but eventually the RYLArians formed a human chute with their hands, starting the ball at the top and letting gravity pull it down to earth in a stunning 3 seconds.
The activity was one of several team-building exercises the youth participated in Thursday afternoon, designed to break the ice and prepare them for the next three days of International RYLA, an advanced leadership training event for youth age 18-30. This year’s International RYLA, the eighth since the event began in 2001, drew 130 participants, and is being led by 20 counselors.
"This will be my tenth RYLA," says Bill Manning, of the Rotary Club of Evergreen, Colorado, USA, who is serving as a counselor. "It is a wondrous opportunity. You get to work with truly great kids from all over the world. This is all about youth leading youth. The youth participants, through experiential activities, are able to learn leadership through their peers." -- AG
18 June 2010
-- Rotary International President-elect Ray Klinginsmith surprised Rotaractors Friday by holding a question and answer session at the end of his prepared remarks during the Rotaract Preconvention Meeting on the campus of McGill University in Montréal. Klinginsmith told the audience he has made youth programs an emphasis of his term, and is very interested in hearing from them how RI can help make Rotaract better.
"I want to take questions, because I come to the job of president to learn as much as to teach," Klinginsmith said. "I want to hear from you, I want to take your questions, I want to hear your comments." -- AG
19 June 2010
-- Stephanie Smith, the Rotarian liaison to the Rotaract Club of the Athlete Village, drove nonstop from Minnesota, USA, to Montréal, Québec, Canada, with her husband and five-year-old son to give RI President John Kenny a special hockey jersey emblazoned with End Polio Now on Friday during the Rotaract Preconvention Meeting.
The Rotaract club includes many members of the Twin Cities Northern Lights hockey team, a nonprofit organization based in Minnesota, which traveled to British Columbia to play five exhibition games against Canadian teams before February's Winter Olympics in Vancouver in a fundraiser for polio eradication. Read more .
Smith, a member of the Rotary Club of Bloomington-Daymakers and the team owner, said players wore the End Polio Now jerseys during the tournament to help publicize their efforts. Extras were made, including one especially for Kenny. The jerseys are also available at a booth in the House of Friendship during the RI Convention to Rotarians who might want to use them for a fundraising auction. -- AG