Incoming district governors said they'll leave this year's International Assembly with a deeper understanding of Rotary's top priorities, including eradicating polio, enhancing Rotary's brand, strengthening the Rotary Foundation, and building a strong and more diverse membership.
For Mohamed Adel Hafez, governor-elect of District 2451 (Egypt), the assembly's varied workshops were invaluable. The workshops offered practical information and skills to help district governors-elect perform their duties.
"I can speak to my clubs with more authority and knowledge about what needs to be done in the coming year. It's very important for me to relay the messages I received here to my clubs, because if they don't understand our priorities, it will be hard for us to accomplish them," said Hafez, a member of the Rotary Club of El Obour. "That is what makes this assembly so important."
At a membership development workshop, Hazel Haas, incoming governor of District 1040 (England), learned more about satellite clubs, which provide a new option for establishing clubs. It's a short-term, transitional step on the way to becoming a full, independent Rotary club.
"I want to persuade my clubs, of which many are in the upper age brackets, to really go for satellite clubs. Unfortunately, clubs have been reluctant to accept them. I really want to push my clubs on this because I think that's the way forward," said Haas. "My new membership committee chair and I are going to have a long chat about making this a focus for our district."
The internationality at the assembly reminded Jose Estevez of the Philippines just how globally diverse Rotary is.
"The fellowship and interaction was incredible. I never thought 535 district governors from all over the world, with so many different cultures, could come together like this and unite in such a short time," said Estevez, governor-elect of District 3820. "It was amazing to see."
More important, Estevez said, are the connections being made by governors from all over the world who are willing to help each other in community service.
"I come from the Philippines, where so much needs to be done. To find leaders that care about our cause just as much as their own is inspiring," said Estevez. "It reassures me and my clubs that when we take on the problems of our country, we are not going to be alone."
The five-day training event this week began with RI President-elect K.R. "Ravi" Ravindran urging the governors-elect to Be a Gift to the World.
"That was the high point for this assembly. It was such an inspirational theme that really motivated us the rest of the week," said Bhupinder Jaspal, governor-elect of District 1060 (England) and member of the Rotary Club of Warwick. "It's very easy to sell to our clubs."
Jaspal said that the information he learned this week about Rotary Foundation global grants will be instrumental during his term.
"They [global grants] are a wonderful way to bring clubs together from all over the world," said Jaspal. "In order to achieve our goals of reducing poverty, improving clean water, we need to utilize these grants. They are big-picture projects."
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