By Arnold R. Grahl, Rotary Editorial staff
Riding on the subway to the Atlantico Pavilion in Lisbon, Portugal, earlier in the week for the 2013 Rotary convention, I ran into a Rotarian from Nigeria, who will be governor of his district in 2014-15. I asked him about his district, his ambition for his district governor year, and how he has been enjoying the convention so far. Before I knew it, six stops had gone by, and I had arrived at Oriente station on the red line, the nearest stop to the pavilion.
This was pretty typical throughout the week, as I shared metro rides and conversations with Rotarians from Canada, France, England, of course the United States, and Zimbabwe.
A club president from Ontario, Canada, shared with me the best sightseeing destinations in the city, should I manage to peel myself away from my work long enough to make use of the information. A delegation from Barbados offered me a tiny bottle of rum in the lobby of my hotel! One night, riding home tired and worn out from a particularly grueling day, I spotted a lone Nigerian Rotarian who looked similarly tired, and struck up a conversation. It made us both feel better.
I observed many more conversations than I took part in, pretty much everywhere I went in Lisbon. I am convinced these encounters benefit and inspire Rotarians more than all the great speakers and workshops, as good as those are.
During the fourth plenary, Celine Cousteau, granddaughter of famous oceanographer Jacque-Yves Cousteau, talked about how we all have stories, and our stories make us who we are. She noted that telling our stories creates connections, and builds a community. She said the reason we all came to the convention this week is because we are a community and share a common goal.
As you leave Lisbon, it is my hope you can take a piece of that community with you to your club, to inspire them for another Rotary year.