At the International Assembly : Carl Chinnery read his grandmother's letter on her family's ordeal with polio
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.
RCBSP sharing news from Rotary International and Rotary Districts and Clubs in Malaysia