Rotary brings the world to Sydney

The Sydney Harbour Bridge and city skyline as seen from Milsons Point.
Photo Credit: Tourism Australia

It may be the start of winter in Sydney, Australia, but things are heating up down under as more than 18,000 Rotary members from over 150 countries arrive for their biggest international event of the year, the Rotary Convention.

The four-day event, held 1-4 June, offers the perfect venue for our members, their families, and friends to experience the global reach of Rotary. Through workshops, special events, and social activities, attendees have the chance to discover and celebrate our members' diverse backgrounds and exchange ideas for making the world a better place.

"At a convention, for a few short days, we see a world where men and women from every corner of the globe come together to build peace, to serve others, and simply to enjoy one another's company," says Rotary President Ron Burton.

This year's convention highlights Rotary's progress in eradicating polio, providing clean water and improving sanitation, building peace, fighting poverty, and empowering our youth.

On 30 May, before the convention officially begins, we'll attempt to break Oprah Winfrey's world record for the most climbers on the Sydney Harbour Bridge at one time. The climb, which also seeks to break the current Guinness World Record for most flags flown on a bridge, is aimed at helping to raise awareness for Rotary's top priority: eradicating polio.

The world is this close to ending this disease once and for all, and Rotary's role in advocacy, fundraising, and education are key to our success. Former Paralympian and polio survivor Ade Adepitan is one of several keynote speakers who will inspire convention goers with his story. Dr. Bruce Aylward, assistant director-general for Polio, Emergencies, and Country Collaboration at the World Health Organization, will update attendees on our status in the fight to end polio.

The Water & Sanitation Rotarian Action Group is hosting its annual World Water Summit before the convention. The program focuses on collaborations and features prominent water experts including Dr. Braimah Apambire from the Center for International Water & Sustainability at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada, in the U.S. and Edward Kairu, executive director at Maji na Ufanisi in Nairobi, Kenya.

During the convention, Jack Sim, founder of the World Toilet Organization and the World Toilet College, will take to the stage to share his passion for improved sanitation. Sim participated in last year's World Water Summit and is committed to getting people talking about a subject often considered taboo.

Other keynote speakers include:

  • Gemma Sisia, founder of the School of St. Jude in Tanzania, sharing her ideas for fighting poverty through education
  • Brett Lee, Australian cricket star and founder of Mewsic, a foundation supporting music centers for disadvantaged children in India

Workshops on topics ranging from child slavery to malaria and food security to peace and conflict resolution give Rotary members the opportunity to learn from experts in the field. 

When the convention ends, Rotary members will leave the Sydney Olympic Park filled with inspiration, motivation, and information for creating positive change in their communities. What's more, they'll leave with a lifetime of memories and friendships that are uniquely Rotary.

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