By Ryan Hyland, Rotary editorial staff
RI President-elect Ian H.S. Riseley urged incoming district leaders to seek gender and age parity and protect the environment in announcing the 2017-18 presidential theme Rotary: Making a Difference. “We know that we can do more together than we could ever do alone. I ask you to keep that spirit of teamwork and cooperation always in your minds and to take it back with you to your districts.”
We caught up with incoming district governors after the theme was announced to get their thoughts, and see how they planned to make a difference in their leadership year.
Harriette F. Verwey, Rotary Club of Leiden-AM, the Netherlands, (District 1600): “This is a theme I can work with. We all can make a real difference in the world. The gender and age issues are things I can do a lot with. It gives me fire.
We are going to work more intensely with Rotaract and alumni to help them understand our experience and the work we do.”
Suresh Mathew, Rotary Club of Trivandrum Central, India, (District 3211): “It’s a beautiful theme. Making a difference is what Rotary is meant for. I appreciated that he said our work needs to be sustainable through our community.
We are going to work on a pet project for agricultural protection. We want to work on eliminating pesticides from our crops and farming. We are also initiating a project for safe sound to reduce noise pollution.”
Nancy Clowes Leonhardt, West Little Rock, Arkansas, USA (District 6150): “Isn’t this what Rotary is all about? I see us making a difference in our communities, our states, countries, and world.
In my district, we are working on literacy, not just for children but for adults. Everybody needs to learn to read and write. Fourteen percent of adults in Arkansas don’t know how to read or write above a fifth grade level. That’s how I hope we can make a difference.”
Alan Hudson, Rotary Club of Hereford Wye Valley, England, (District 1100): “I was actually moved to tears. We can get a little cynical about the message changing each year. For the first time, I feel this message is easy to understand and easy to put into practice. I’m going to visit all my clubs and tell them they can make a difference in any way they want. It’s up to each club, the small differences they make in their community make a big difference in the district.”
Valerio Borzacchini, Rotary Club of Ascoli Piceno, Italy (District 2090): “The theme puts us in a good place to move forward. I liked the teamwork part of his speech. I want all our districts in Italy to work together.
A lot of our districts and clubs will be working to rebuild the communities that were destroyed by the earthquake last year. We are going to support survivors and create infrastructure for the small businesses. We are united in this.”