By Viviana Bennett, president, Plano Community Rotaract Club, Texas, USA
I get very excited when it comes to Rotary events, and the 2019 Rotaract Preconvention was no exception. It was one of the most breathtaking experiences of my Rotary journey so far. I attended my first Preconvention and Convention in Hamburg, Germany, in 2019, and had an amazing experience meeting fellow Rotaractors and Rotarians from all around the world.
I am originally from Colombia, where I first joined Interact and have been a member of Rotaract in the United States for 10 years. This preconvention was also my first time in Europe, which made the experience even better.
Everything exceeded my expectations. I learned a lot from the breakout sessions, and the general sessions inspired me and reminded me of how great our organization is. I reconnected with longtime friends. For example, I made a good friend during a Rotaract trip in Mexico in 2015, and I was able to see her again in Hamburg. She was just one of the many friends from my previous trips that I was able to reconnected with. I also made new friends, and saw some again a few months later in Canada. I still keep in touch with some of the people I met and can’t wait to see them again in Honolulu.
There’s so much to do during the preconvention. You get to join a roomful of people in listening to great, world-class speakers. Then you can choose smaller sessions that are relevant to you. I attended ones that would help grow my club and district. Everywhere I went, I both learned from and shared ideas with others. It is very interesting to see how members in different countries find so many impressive ideas for their clubs and projects.
During one of the sessions, I asked questions about creating new clubs in my district. To my surprise, my questions were not only answered on stage, but I was also approached by many Rotaractors offering support and handing out their business cards. Not only did I get useful information, but I gained new friends. It’s fascinating to connect and share that same spirit of service that goes beyond working on community projects.
I also participated in Host Organization Committee events. I saw different parts of the city guided by local Rotaractors, volunteered on a local project, and had fun with new international friends. This helped strengthen my relationships and created lasting memories. Friendship is one of the most valuable things I find in Rotaract and Rotary in general. Going to these events is one of the best ways to take advantage of that. Thanks to this, I have my phone full of contacts with flags from around the world and know I always have someone to reach out to regardless of where I am.
I can’t wait to be in Honolulu, seeing all my friends again and making a lot more. What excites you most about the Rotaract Preconvention in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 2020? Answer in the comments section below.