RI President Tanaka’s Rotary Moments in February, March, and April

RI President Sakuji Tanaka (second from left) takes part in a Holi festival 27 March, organized by Rotarians in District 3010 (Union Territory, India) during a visit to the district. Holi is a festival of colors celebrated by Hindus mainly in India and Nepal.

RI President Sakuji Tanaka (second from left) takes part in a Holi festival 27 March, organized by Rotarians in District 3010 (Union Territory, India) during a visit to the district. Holi is a festival of colors celebrated by Hindus mainly in India and Nepal.

By Sakuji Tanaka, in English and Japanese

While I was preparing for a Major Donor dinner in Tampa Bay, Florida, on my birthday, which is 4 February, I thought about the past year. As people often do on their birthdays, I was reflecting about how quickly time passes and about my purpose in life of being useful to others — especially during my year as RI president when I feel I must do my best for Rotarians. I was remembering all the places I’ve traveled as a Rotarian and the interesting people I’ve met along the way. Continue reading

RI President Tanaka’s Rotary moments in December and January

By Sakuji Tanaka, in English and Japanese

As I traveled in 2012 to Rotary clubs and projects, I saw the joy of being a Rotarian. I noticed that the deeper your involvement with Rotary, the more you can grow as a person. Furthermore, I believe that Rotary can mean something different to each Rotarian, and it’s a part of our journey to discover that meaning. My wish for 2013 is that Rotarians discover what this organization means to them, and then share it with others. These personal experiences are our Rotary moments. Here were some of my Rotary moments from the past few months. Continue reading

Rotary-UN Day and putting Service Above Self

RI President Sakuji Tanaka stands by a section of the Berlin Wall on display at the UN, during Rotary-UN Day. The first of three Rotary Global Peace Forums begins in Berlin, Germany, on 30 November. Photo by Monika Lozinska/Rotary Images

By Sakuji Tanaka, in English and Japanese

After the RI Board meeting in November, I attended a memorable Rotary-UN Day in New York City.

While this annual event is important because it reinforces the long-standing relationship between the United Nations and Rotary International, this year was different from past Rotary-UN Days. Less than a week before the event, Hurricane Sandy hit, knocking out power and flooding parts of the area. The city was still struggling to get back on its feet during our event. Yet 950 people of the 1,300 who registered for the event were able to attend. Continue reading

Seeing Peace Through Service

Brian Thompson, District 7070 governor-nominee, right, and his wife, Karen, with RI President Sakuji Tanaka in Vancouver during the Zone 24-32 Institute.

By Sakuji Tanaka, in English and Japanese

I was moved to see my theme for the year, Peace Through Service, in action once again in the Rotary world, especially at a Rotary Institute in Yeosu, Korea.

At the institute, I learned about some of the Korean Rotarians’ effective membership initiatives and how they reached out to Rotarians in Japan. This is significant because, historically, Koreans and Japanese have had difficult relations. Through Rotary, though, they showed that we’re all part of a non-political organization. They told me it is more important to have person-to-person relationships. Rotarians just want to do good in the world and change lives. I have seen this over and over during my worldwide travels. Continue reading

RI President: Rotarians promoting service and peace

President Tanaka and club presidents from Hong Kong visit a site in Mongolia. Photo by Peter Pang

By Sakuji Tanaka, in English and Japanese

Throughout my travels in September, I saw Rotarians promoting Peace Through Service and diligently helping others.

One event that comes to mind, which I attended in September, was the 11th Korea-Japan Goodwill Conference in Tokyo. It brought together more than 1,400 Rotarians from two countries that are experiencing conflict. I was proud to see Rotarians talking about promoting friendship between their countries. Many Rotarians feel that, despite what politicians say, Rotarians share common ideals of service, and this attitude can help transcend conflict. Continue reading

Using vocational service to build peace

RI President Sakuji Tanaka

By Sakuji Tanaka, in English and Japanese

In Japan, we place great importance on the value of work. Whatever we are called to do, we should do it to the very best of our abilities, with dignity and with pride. Whether the job is running a country or shining shoes, there is honor in every vocation.

I grew up embracing this belief, but I had never stopped to contemplate it. One day, in my third year in Rotary, we had a speaker at our club who talked about the purpose of one’s livelihood. He asked, why do we work hard? What is the importance of our work? Continue reading

RI President: Receiving a goat in Kenya

RI President Sakuji Tanaka receives a goat as a gift during his visit in Kenya.

By Sakuji Tanaka, in English and Japanese

While I was in Africa recently, I traveled through eight countries and nine cities, meeting people and projects along the way. What I saw amazed me.

For example, I met Rotarians who had an impressive ability to identify the needs of orphaned children. They were using grants from The Rotary Foundation to help support a dairy farm in Kenya. Continue reading

RI President: Parade grand marshal

RI President Sakuji Tanaka (right) served as grand marshal in Evanston’s Independence Day parade. With him are RI General Secretary John Hewko and his wife, Marga.

By Sakuji Tanaka, in English and Japanese

I was honored to have been the grand marshal of the Fourth of July parade in Evanston, Illinois, USA. Being in the parade was a great opportunity to represent Rotary and the work of Rotarians — especially our polio eradication efforts.

Despite the record heat, I was surprised at the number of people who lined the streets well in advance of the parade in order get a place along the route. It was an impressive display of patriotism. I was happy to have been a part of this event, and I hope that future Rotary International presidents participate in this parade. Continue reading