Incoming district governors discuss 2013-14 RI theme

The 2013-14 RI theme, Engage Rotary, Change Lives

The 2013-14 RI theme, Engage Rotary, Change Lives

By Daniela Garcia, RI editorial staff, reporting from the International Assembly in San Diego, California, USA

Incoming district governors broke into applause as RI President-elect Ron Burton announced the 2013-14 RI theme, Engage Rotary, Change Lives, during the first plenary of the International Assembly, Rotary’s annual training event for future leaders.

I asked several of the future leaders their thoughts about the theme, moments after it had been announced here in San Diego, California, USA. Here is what they said:

Bonnie-Leight Anne Black, governor-elect of District 7040 (Canada):Engage Rotary, Change Lives is something that each one of us can definitely bring home and send the message to each of our incoming presidents, district councils… It’s something that really gets us motivated and that we can hang on to whether it be in our community, internationally, giving to The Rotary Foundation or PolioPlus, or working for them also. Sometimes we forget that serving is the best way we can be Rotarians.”

Robert Bryden Callahan Jr., governor-elect of District 6880 (Alabama, USA): “I have absolutely great excitement about Ron Burton’s leadership, his ideas, his concise expression of what our goals should be. It left me inspired to go back out there. I sat in my chair and thought, if our first class could be the first ones to do a contribution, tomorrow my presidents-elect will have an email from me: We’re going to be the first class in our districts where all our presidents-elect make a contribution. We’re going to follow his leadership and go by his example. It was inspiring and I’m excited.”

Helaine Campbell, governor-elect of District 5130 (California, USA): “I thought it was very inspiring. I’m not too surprised that we’re going to engage, because I’ve heard that term all along in my training. I think we are turning a new leaf. I think we’re going to see new things happen in Rotary, there’s so much coming on in this new year. It’s going to be exciting and we owe it to intiate that with our presidents and pass it on.”

Roberto Fung Kuan, governor-elect of District 3830 (Philippines):  “All Rotarians need to be engaged, rather than just be a Rotarian in name. To me, getting a Rotarian engaged is most important. And then of course, when Rotarians are engaged in projects, then the beneficiaries of those projects can change lives in their communities. To me, it’s quite a meaningful theme and I like it.”

30 thoughts on “Incoming district governors discuss 2013-14 RI theme

  1. Pingback: Incoming district governors discuss 2013-14 RI theme | Warsaw Rotary , Club 3393, District 6540

  2. ” Viver Rotary, Transformar Vidas”, é uma mensagem de sensibilidade e compromisso, é motivadora a todos os que tem espírito rotário. Coisas boas vão continuando acontecer em Rotary. Um grande abraço. Djalma Bentes. D-4720 RCBelém-Norte. Amazônia – Pará – Brasil.

  3. Pingback: Incoming district governors discuss 2013-14 RI theme | Rotary District 9685's Forum

    A theme that would get us more involved
    If change has to occur in the society around us, it can, must happen only through Rotary. Our ultimate aim is to bring onness in the world and that can happen only if the mind-set towards the brethren changes. And Rotary can be the catalyst. More, it is the direct involvement of the Rotarians that would improve life around. Let’s be Engage[d as] Rotary[ans to] Change Lives
    PP Prof R Panchanadhan
    Rotary Club of Tiruchirapalli – D 3000

  5. It is time to do away with self serving themes that feed the egos of the Presidents but do nothing to advance the brand of Rotary!!!!

  6. When I learned about the new R.I. Theme “Engage Rotary, Change Lives”- the first word that came into my mind is commitment. Whenever we are engaged into doing something, we put our heart into it. Whenever we are engaged with somebody, our heart goes with that person. So whenever we are engaged in Rotary, surely, it will change the lives of many……….PP/Incoming Asst Governor Lily Yuchongtian D3790 cluster 2B

    • This is so true – there is too much lack of commitment and Rotarians who are only there because it looks good on their CV

  7. A very inspiring theme …I am already excited to follow the theme for the RY 2013-2014 in my present capacity as President Elect of my RC Tripureswor.

    Rajendra Shakya, PE, RC Tripureswor, Nepal, D3292

  8. The observations of the incoming district governors do not surprise me at all. They can, in my opinion, be called as politically correct statements. I cannot imagine any official (elect) would ever publicly express his/her reservations, if any, on such matters.
    We seem to be following this practice every year since past many years. A closer look at past themes makes one wonder if they are mutually exclusive, complementary or contradictory. For example can any member meaningfully implement “Peace Through Service” or “Embrace the Mankind” without “Engaging the Rotary…”?

  9. Further to my earlier comment, I am happy that even as early as Nov 2012, our DGE Gopal [Dist 3000] had christened our Club Leaders, Dist Team 2013-14, as CHANGE MAKERS.!!!
    PP Prof R Panchanadhan
    R C Tiruchirapalli – D 3000

  10. I appreciate the opinion of Rajeeve Majumdar. But why should there be a contrary opinion? Why should i speak “against”? Every year, we get the slogan [called theme] from every new R I President. I know it is no different from “Look Beyond Yourself”, “Reach Out”, “Happiness is People”, “Lend a Hand”, “Mankind is our Business”, “Reach within to Embrace Humanity”. Yet, every year the “new version” of Service Above Self helps us look at our movement from different angles. Dispensing with annual slogan, as “Service above Self” is the mother for all slogans, is a different thing. Let’s Enjoy Rotary, by getting Engage[d in] Rotary to Change Lives
    PP Prof R Panchanadhan
    R C Tiruchirapalli

    • PP Prof R Panchanadhan, your point is well taken. But I guess that it is a matter of individual’s opinion.
      I have gone through RI themes of past few decades, which I reproduce for your information. A look at these gives one a feeling how similar many of them are & makes me wonder if these indeed have had any real impact.
      2012-13 Peace Through Service
      2011-12 Reach Within to Embrace Humanity
      2010-11 Building Communities — Bridging Continents
      2009-10 The Future of Rotary Is in Your Hands
      2008-09 Make Dreams Real
      2007-08 Rotary Shares
      2006-07 Lead The Way
      2005-06 Service Above Self
      2004-05 Celebrate Rotary
      2003-04 Lend a Hand
      2002-03 Sow the Seeds of Love
      2001-02 Mankind is Our Business
      2000-01 Create Awareness-Take Action
      1999-00 Act with Consistency, Credibility & Continuity
      1998-99 Follow Your Rotary Dream
      1997-98 Show Rotary Cares – for your community, for our world, for its people
      1996-97 Build the Future with Action & Vision
      1995-96 Act with Integrity, Serve with Love, Work for Peace
      1994-95 Be a Friend
      1993-94 Believe in What You Do – Do What You Believe In
      1992-93 Real Happiness is Helping Others
      1991-92 Look Beyond Yourself
      1990-91 Honor Rotary with Faith & Enthusiasm
      1989-90 Enjoy Rotary!
      1988-89 Put Your Life in Rotary – Your Life
      1987-88 Rotarians – United in Service – Dedicated to Peace
      1986-87 Rotary brings Hope
      1985-86 You are the Key
      1984-85 Discover a New World of Service
      1983-84 Share Rotary – Serve People
      1982-83 Mankind is One – Build Bridges of Frienship Throught the World
      1981-82 World Understanding and Peace through Rotary
      1980-81 Take Time to Serve
      1979-80 Let Service Light the Way
      1978-79 Reach Out
      1977-78 Serve to Unite Mankind
      1976-77 I Believe in Rotary
      1975-76 To Dignify the Human Being
      1974-75 Renew the Spirit of Rotary
      1973-74 A Time for Action
      1972-73 Let’s Take a New Look- And Act
      1971-72 Goodwill begins With You
      1970-71 Bridge the Gaps
      1969-70 Review & Renew
      1968-69 Participate!
      1967-68 Make Your Rotary Membership Effective


  12. I am one of those who believes that Service Above Self, is as good as it gets, but it is good to have a new focus each year which represents the thoughts and beliefs of the new RI President. Engage Rotary Change Lives cannot be more action orientated, and it is what I expected from Ron. If we are all involved and engaged with Rotary, we definitely will change lives, and that is a wonderful experience!!!

    DGE Trevor Taylor
    District 9600

    • Thanq for the mail Happy to read all the comments – education by itself But, I don’t seem to see my comments!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yours in Rotary PP R Panchanadhan, Rotary Club of Tiruchirapalli, R I Dist 3000

  13. I feel that whether a New Theme every year is necessary or not is a matter of individual opinion. I would like to believe that this practice is rather ritualistic with virtually negligible impact on the ground. The only visible impact is that we get to see on the Banners, Letterheads & various Rotary publications. We seem to have emotional attachment to certain practices which were perhaps relevant when they were started but probably not so with changing times.
    It should not be very difficult to have an honest performance review to see if the any of the themes propagated in the previous years have helped Rotary in any manner – say by way of having done a spectacular & “long lasting” service project. If YES, then they should be documented and publicized for future reference. If the answer is NO, then we must review this in its entirety.
    As per my experience, a new ‘idea’ in any organization takes quite some time to sink in to get assimilated at grass root level before it can be meaningfully implemented. In fact, the ‘idea’ itself may need to be refined or customized as it gets implemented – which is very relevant for a global organization like Rotary – spread across various countries having vast social, economical & cultural differences. In case of Rotary, the ‘life’ of an idea is just one year. According to the norms, the new theme gets announced in Jan i.e. within six months of the current theme being in vogue. Which means that even before the current theme has started showing any visible impact, the members are almost exhorted to get ready to implement the new theme – six months down the line.
    It appears (at least to an ordinary member like me) that each theme is considered mutually exclusive because whenever a new theme is announced, it takes no reference or cognizance of the existing theme. As such there seems to be no continuity of the theme – which is akin to a mission statement.
    Of course, once a theme is announced, some programs/seminars etc around it (like peace forums this year) are bound to take place. But one needs to ask if these have any lasting effect or they are being held just perfunctorily till June. Another question that arises is whether such programs e.g. peace forum would get repeated next year!
    I believe that a noble service organization works best when the urge to serve comes from within. If one needs an external stimulant every year by way of a new theme or a slogan from the head of the organization, then I wonder if it is a sign of a healthy & sustainable organization.

  14. RI President Elects Ron’s theme Engage Rotary and Change Lives is an excellent message and call to action for all Rotarians and also those external to Rotary – if we have communities, corporates and governments, who also Engage Rotary then we have a better chance of increasing our membership, building awareness and helping us to Change Lives. Great message for us all. DGE GarryBrowne
    District 9675

  15. Very enlightening and thought provoking dialogue as to the value of the annual theme.
    I feel privileged to be among such ‘engaged’ Rotarians. As to the potential influence of the annual theme, it may be that the inspiring value of this year’s “Engage Rotary, Change Lives” could be felt at the RI Peace Forum, Honolulu, HI, Jan. 25th-27th.
    I did listen attentively to RI President Elect’s speech…and vision, and I believe I also heard some subtle references to new directions. My comment to him, as we were exiting the Convention Center, was that change needs to come about. Rotary has been sitting on its laurels long enough…..And if we want to see change come about we should look no further than the inspiring, convincing and passionate representatives of Rotoracs, graduates of the Rotary sponsored Ambassadorial programs and Rotary World Peace Fellows. The compelling presentations made by these Rotary sponsored and significantly ‘Engaged’ individuals elevated this Rotary event to a level I have not experienced during the 17 years I have been a Rotarian….and an ‘Engaged’ one, I might add. Steve Yoshida, your efforts paid off! Congratulations!!!

    frank Tripicchio, PP
    RC of Bakersfield South
    RD 5240

  16. It is indeed very interesting to note the synchronism in the chorus of praises for the new RI Theme that are being enthusiastically expressed by several veterans of the Rotary world – including the honorable & respected DGs Elect.
    One reason why I find it all rather amusing is perhaps attributable to the fact I am barely 3 year old in this august organization, having joined it post retirement in 2010 after working for nearly 4 decades in a multidisciplinary global engineering enterprise. In that sense, I am a novice and not yet fully attuned to the way Rotary functions.
    It is, therefore, not surprising that mine is the “lone” voice expressing the (strange) views on the RI theme in the most ‘non Rotarian’ manner.
    That said, I confess that I am bit puzzled about this entire ritual which I see being practiced very scrupulously every January. (Few days ago, on Jan 22nd to be precise, I had listed various RI Themes from 1970 till date to highlight similarity in many of the themes).
    My impression has been that, as a leader of the RI District, a DG Elect is fairly senior person having spent many years in the Rotary in various capacities. During these years he/she would have deeply inculcated the RI values and commitment to the RI Goal of “Service Above Self”. Hence the person at that position, whom the thousands of members of the District would look up to ‘lead’ them, is seen getting refreshingly enthused by a new theme does not appear very appealing!
    Besides, I would like to believe that, in one of the most revered positions as the Head of this very noble organization, the RI President would not like to surround himself with the “Yes Men/Women” and hence would frown upon acts of sycophancy any member of the Rotary irrespective of the position & the status of the member concerned.
    But then, as I admitted above, I am still not fully attuned to various practices & protocols of the RI which have been laid down several decades ago.

  17. Pingback: Discursos de la Asamblea Internacional | Blog 4320

  18. I don’t understand all the controversy. The new 2013 theme is clean, elegant and defines the RI vision. Definitely on the money for me

  19. There is no controversy at all! The theme on stand alone basis is absolutely fantastic just like all other previous themes have been. The moot point is whether
    a) it is necessary at all to have a new theme every year and
    b) also whether all themes are to be considered mutually exclusive or continuation of the previous ones.
    Whatever manner the individual member may interpret the new theme, the proponent ( the President elect) himself never says, in so many words, that the his theme is a continuum of the previous theme.

  20. I am very encouraged and inspired by the new Rotary theme for 2013-2014. Many of fellow Rotarians are found to be just members of the Rotary Clubs but it takes more to be a real Rotarian. Getting engage in Rotary works and mission is the only way to justify being a true Rotarian. D3292

  21. Club Runer district 7020

    Past president rotary club saint-michel de l’Attalaye identifie au No 62418

    Jean auguste president. 2011-2012. Want to collaborate to gerther .

  22. An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a colleague who has been conducting a little research on this. And he actually ordered me breakfast because I found it for him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending the time to discuss this subject here on your site.

  23. Engage Rotary is very important to our programs…our club has work hard to recruit new members in support of making 1.3 million Rotarians by year 2015. Since last year we have recruited 33 members and this year another new recruited Rotarians of 23 resulting to the creation of two clubs in just one year. Hopefully we can create another club before the end of this year.

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