Ian H.S. Riseley
May 2018 Rotary is a massive, and massively complex, organization. As this issue of The Rotarian goes to press, we have 1.2 million members in 35,633 clubs in nearly every country of the world. Hundreds of thousands of participants are involved in Rotary programs such as Rotaract, Interact, Youth Exchange, Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, Rotary Community Corps, Rotary Peace Centers, and a host of local and Foundation-supported projects and programs at the national, district, and local levels. The name of Rotary is attached to countless projects every year, from blood banks to food banks, school sanitation to polio eradication. One hundred thirteen years after the first Rotary club was founded, Rotary service reaches literally around the globe.
What that service looks like on a daily and weekly basis can vary enormously by region, country, and club. Each club has its own history, priorities, and identity. It follows that the identity of Rotarians, and the purpose each Rotarian sees in his or her service, similarly has a great deal of variation. There's nothing wrong with that, as Rotary is by design a decentralized organization, intended to enable each Rotarian and each Rotary club to serve in the ways that suit them best.
Yet the diversity that makes us so strong can also pose challenges to our identity as an organization. It is no surprise that many people who have heard of Rotary still have little idea of what Rotary does, how we are organized, or why we exist at all. Even within Rotary, many members have an incomplete understanding of our larger organization, our goals, or the scope and breadth of our programs. These challenges have significant implications, not only for our ability to serve most effectively, but also for the public image that is so essential to our ability to build our membership, partnerships, and service.
Several years ago, Rotary launched a serious effort across the organization to address these issues, developing tools to strengthen our visual and brand identity. Today, we are using those tools to develop our People of Action public image campaign, which showcases the ability that Rotary grants each of us to make a difference in our communities and beyond. Last June, your Rotary International Board of Directors voted to adopt a new vision statement, reflecting our identity and the single purpose that unites the diversity of our work.
Together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.
Wherever we live, whatever language we speak, whatever work our clubs are involved in, our vision is the same. We all see a world that could be better and that we can help to make better. We are here because Rotary gives us the opportunity to build the world we want to see – to unite and take action through Rotary: Making a Difference.
Paul A. Netzel
Trustee Chair 2017-18
Fifty percent of the world's population is under age 30. So it is important that we ask: What do young people want? Of course, every generation must ask this question. But it is also an important question for Rotary today, because our clubs must evolve if we are to best serve communities that, themselves, are evolving and changing all the time.
The World Economic Forum's recent Global Shapers Survey of more than 30,000 people under 30 from 186 countries offers some useful insights.
A majority of the respondents view climate change and conflict as the most critical issues we face. They also value a "start-up ecosystem and entrepreneurship" as vital to youth empowerment. However, they are less optimistic about having their voices heard. Over half the survey respondents do not think "young people's views" are considered before important decisions are made in their countries. (Some good news: During my travels to several dozen countries this year, many Rotaractors shared that they believe their voices are being heard by Rotary leaders!)
It is clear that young people want to make a difference on the issues that matter to our world and their communities. Above all, they want to see results when they commit to a project. A good example is the father-and-son team of Tulsi and Anil Maharjan, members of the Rotary Club of Branchburg Township, New Jersey. With the help of grants from Our Foundation, Tulsi and Anil are implementing microcredit, scholarship, and homebuilding projects in Nepal to help survivors of the 2015 earthquake.
Thanks to changes made at the 2016 Council on Legislation, clubs now have flexibility to operate as they think best. This means a broader selection of club models in terms of how meetings take place.
By embracing this flexibility, we can create more examples like Anil – a former e-club member who joined his father's Rotary club. Further, I urge you to personally encourage Rotaractors to take advantage of the option now available to join a Rotary club while they are still members of Rotaract. And help them learn how Our Foundation can help them achieve their dreams of doing good in the world!
By taking action today, we can pave the way for more than 200,000 of Rotary's future leaders to leave their own legacy of making a real difference for generations to come.
DG Dr Manohur appeared on Bernama Today on 5th December 2017 to speak on District 3300's Organ Donation Campaign.
This month my focus is on the purpose and power of partnerships.
We have a history of partnerships at all levels of Rotary. We partner member to member, club to club, district to district, all finding support from the wide variety of The Rotary Foundation's programs, projects, and grants. How powerful this continues to be!
But only in the last several decades have we paid much attention to the idea of partnering with organizations outside of Rotary. Most would agree this change led to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which has accomplished so much through each partner sharing its expertise and working together with a common purpose. This public-private partnership for global health is on the verge of eradicating an infectious disease affecting humans for only the second time in history.
Simply put, partners agree to cooperate in advancing mutual goals. In so doing, they accomplish much more than one entity can alone. We now understand that to maximize our impact, Rotary must establish innovative partnerships, not just at all levels within our organization, but outside of Rotary as well.
Our second major partnership initiative has been the Rotary Peace Centers program. In little over a decade, our peace centers have trained more than 1,100 individuals. Through this program, Rotary Peace Fellows develop the skills they need to serve as leaders and catalysts for peace and conflict resolution both in their communities and around the globe.
Thanks to the ongoing work of the Joint Committee on Partnerships, which includes RI directors and Foundation trustees, the number of Rotary partnerships continues to grow. The Partnerships page at Rotary.org (go to About Rotary, then choose Partners) has a tremendous amount of information. Please take a few minutes and explore the page. Make sure to scroll all the way down to learn more about the partners and – most important – how your club or district can get involved.
As we head toward 2018 and consider which New Year's resolutions we will make, dream big about the service opportunities waiting for us with our dedicated partners.
Make 2018 the year to take advantage of all that Rotary offers and see how much more productive and effective we can be using the power of partnerships.
Best wishes to you for a very happy new year.
Paul A. Netzel
Trustee Chair 2017-18
Seventy-two years ago, the United Nations was founded "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war ... [and] to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors." Despite those worthy aspirations, and generations of investment in achieving them, the "scourge of war" is still with us: Last year, more than 102,000 people died in 49 armed conflicts around the world. Some of those conflicts were in their fifth decade or beyond. Terrorism, intolerance, and extremism; the refugee crisis; and environmental degradation are now global challenges.
Collectively, we seem further than ever from achieving the goals that were set with such ambition and optimism in 1945. Yet hope endures, as long as there are people willing to work for a more peaceful future – not only through their governments, but also beside them and beside each other. Today, Rotary is better placed than ever to have a real and lasting impact for peace: through our peace-focused programs, such as Rotary Peace Fellows, and through every area of our service. Water, sanitation, health, education, and economic development are all interrelated and part of the complex interactions that can lead to conflict – or avert it. To best leverage our service in all these areas, and to maximize their impact for peace, it is essential to understand these interactions and plan our service accordingly.
For these reasons, we have scheduled a series of six presidential peacebuilding conferences between February and June in Canada, Lebanon, the UK, Australia, Italy, and the United States. These conferences will focus not on peace but on peacebuilding: We will share ways that we can work to build peace through the service of our Rotary clubs and districts. Five of the one-day conferences will illuminate the connections between peace and another area of focus. The first conference, in Vancouver, B.C., will explore the link between peace and another sphere of great concern to us in Rotary: environmental sustainability. You can view the full schedule and register at www.rotary.org/presidential-conferences.
The goals are simple: to help Rotarians find new ways to advance peace through their service, to learn from experts, and to strengthen our abilities to build peace. It is my hope and belief that these conferences will help us move closer to a more peaceful world, through Rotary: Making a Difference.
Ian H.S. Riseley
RCBSP sharing news from Rotary International and Rotary Districts and Clubs in Malaysia