By Kamlesh (Kam) Chandan, president of the Rotary Club of Lake Norman/Huntersville, North Carolina, USA
As a club president, I attended my first Rotary convention this year in Atlanta with my parents, my children, and my wife. It was a special moment celebrating the end of the Rotary year with my family and with friends from all over the world. I enjoyed connecting with other Rotarians, listening to great speakers, learning about the global impact of Rotary, and celebrating 100 years of The Rotary Foundation.
I was personally touched when past RI President Kalyan Banerjee described how he and local Rotarians put together a plan of rehabilitation and rebuilding after the severe earthquake that struck my ancestral home, Kutch, in northwest India in January of 2001. He shared the story of one woman who had lost everything in the earthquake, including her 8-year-old granddaughter, who decided to give money she had saved for a trip to Mecca to the relief effort. Months later when the work was done and Rotarians gathered to dedicate the results, she got up on stage to say how, for the first time since that terrible day, her mind was at peace. It was just one example Banerjee used to show how the Foundation is improving lives all over the world.
My daughters Smera, 11, and Naisha, 9, enjoyed the House of Friendship. They both had fun packing meals for Rise Against Hunger. They were amused by the Peacebunny Island Project, an Interact club project that began two years ago when its founder adopted and began raising homeless angora rabbits to bring happiness to senior citizens. The fur from the humanely-treated rabbits is clipped every few months, spun into yarn, and sold to the fashion industry. My daughters also enjoyed the special attention they received skating around the convention venue on their heel wheels.
My wife and parents enjoyed connecting with friends from India and learning about Rotary’s global impact. My wife joined in song with the International Fellowship of Rotarian Musicians at their booth in the House of Friendship. Our trip to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta opened our eyes to the teams of researchers, scientists, and volunteers who are working hard to prevent diseases and eradicate polio.
The highlight of the convention for me was being featured in the Rotary Convention Minute video that celebrated 100 years of The Rotary Foundation. This came as a complete surprise for our family.
It would be wonderful if every Rotarian could experience at least one Rotary International Convention. I am also excited about Rotary’s new People of Action campaign. I am proud to be a Rotarian and I look forward to enjoying fellowship and friendship for years to come.
- Register for the 2018 Rotary Convention in Toronto by 15 December to receive the early registration discount
- Relive memories from the 2017 Convention in Atlanta