The House of Friendship is the heartbeat of the RI Convention. Having covered four conventions, I can safely say this is where you feel the pulse of the event.
Entertainment, food, arts and crafts, camaraderie, and service all combine in the House of Friendship, which each year is designed to capture the flavor of the host city while creating an environment that welcomes and embraces all cultures.
In Bangkok, the massive hall is lush with thousands of colorful flowers and ferns. Towering structures are wrapped in bamboo and vines. There is even a mini waterfall. No matter where you turn, you’ll find a family or group of Rotarians snapping photos of each other. Rotarians laughing together, hugging each other; discussing each other’s projects in the one of the many project booths.
There’s also sound. Some good, some, well, not so good.
When I entered the hall the first time, I noticed a constant melody of Elvis songs in the background. After a while, I realized it wasn’t the public address system or canned music, but a live Elvis impersonator on center stage working the crowd. Thirty years after his death, and 7,000 miles from his birthplace, his memory lives on, entertaining Rotarians in Bangkok.
My second time through the hall, I was greeted by the sound of drums. A Thai procession pounded away on makeshift barrels, producing an awesome effect.
But in the background I could hear another type of music. Not Elvis, and not drums. It sounded sort of off key and jumbled. With a little searching, I found it, at the other end of the hall, a karaoke stage. While my ears paid the price, it was great to see the people on stage and in the crowd having fun.
Which is what the House of Friendship is all about. Share your House of Friendship experiences with us below.