Rotary’s future takes center stage on last day of Sydney convention

Rotary Scholar Kelsi Lopatecki Cox inspired thousands at the Sydney Convention with her passion for community work.
Photo Credit: Rotary International/Monika Lozinska

Gertrude Adzo Akpalu walked out of the Allphones Arena in Sydney more inspired than ever to do her part to inject youth and energy into Rotary, helping to secure its future.

"This was by far the best plenary session of the convention," said Akpalu, who is the director of youth activities for the Rotary Club of Accra East, Ghana. "All the speakers on New Generations gave us a clear message that engaging young minds will keep Rotary alive. I'm young myself, so this was the perfect message to take home," she added.

The fourth plenary session, held 4 June, focused on what's ahead for Rotary and featured young speakers who thrived under Rotary's New Generations and educational programs.

Plenary speaker Ramkumar Raju, Rotaract representative for District 3230 in India, played a key role in planning the Presidential New Generations Conference in Chennai in October, which attracted nearly 3,000 attendees and set a Guinness World Record for the world's largest high-five.

"The impact of this project was so huge that there are more than 2,000 new Rotaract members in our district," said Raju. "We wanted to show the world that we are agents of change. I believe we accomplished that."

Ronald S. Kawaddwa told attendees that his work as New Generations chair for District 9211 in Uganda has made him optimistic about what young people can achieve.

A 33-year-old member of the Rotary Club of Kasangati, Kawaddwa said Rotary's future depends on empowering our young members.

"If we are to realize Rotary's road to transformation, [the] new generation's development and empowerment are key," he said. "We cannot achieve sustainable development without addressing our youth and the issues that affect them."

Rotary Scholar Kelsi Lopatecki Cox is a prime example of what can happen when you nurture young people. During her speech to the convention audience, she championed innovative technology and education as a way to address poverty and under-development in rural communities. She is program coordinator for the Digital Learning Room, a project that brings technology to schools in the South Pacific.

"The challenges faced by our world are great, and they won't go away overnight," said Cox. "By supporting education, by embracing technology, by daring to think outside of the box, we can address poverty and inequality. But we can't do it alone; when we join together, we are stronger. Together, we can create a world of opportunity."

Ravindran accepts 2015-16 Rotary presidency

K.R. "Ravi" Ravindran, a member of the Rotary Club of Colombo, Western Province, Sri Lanka, was elected the 2015-16 RI president, telling the audience he accepts "this life-time opportunity with great humility."

Ravindran acknowledges that Rotary is at a momentous period in its history.

"The great battle we waged against the insidious poliovirus is slowly but surely drawing to its finite end, and we are continuing to reach out to thousands with our humanitarian services," he said. "But let us continue to be vigilant; let us not lull ourselves into complacency for we know our membership lingers and languishes."

He encouraged Rotary members to communicate better and take advantage of the resources available to make Rotary's brand "shine brighter and louder, especially outside this organization," he said.

Closing out the fourth plenary session, attendees were treated to a preview of the 2015 Rotary Convention in São Paulo, Brazil. The Host Organization Committee shared a taste of Brazilian culture, including a traditional dance routine and a video invitation from Mayor Fernando Haddad.

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4-Jun-2014
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