G’night Sydney

As the sun was setting (literally) on another successful convention, we caught up with a few attendees as they left Sydney Olympic Park for the last time to get their final thoughts on the 2014 Rotary Convention.

Here’s what they had to say:

This is my third convention and by far the most inspired. I enjoyed the New Generation plenary the best. There was so much respect in the crowd for their energy and what they were promoting. I also related to Tommy Spaulding. I suffered from dyslexia just like he did. So to hear how he overcame that through Rotary was wonderful. And I have to say, this convention was incredibly organized. Very well done. — Les Allen Dennis, Rotary Club of Regency Park, Australia

I couldn’t pick one speaker as my favorite because they all brought something different to the table. We learned a lot here. – Bello Ibrahim, Rotary Club of Apo, Nigeria

The part that I liked the most was 2014-15 RI President Gary C.K. Huang’s speech during the closing plenary session. I thought he put a lot of thought into it. It was very inspiring. I like the idea that he’s from a new culture, as the first Chinese Rotary president. I’m the president-elect for my club, so the breakout session for our class was particularly good. There were several speakers there with really good ideas to help us hit the ground running. – Lynn Sinnott, president-elect for the Rotary Club of Daytona Beach, Florida, USA

I liked the exhibitors’ booths [at the House of Friendship]. There was so much to enjoy. President Ron (Burton) really did a great job tonight at showing us how engaging Rotary changes lives. His speech left us, hopefully, wanting to do more for humanity. – Swapan Basu, Rotary Club of Calcutta Laban, India

The convention was very well run, very well organized. The Australian people were hospitable and welcoming. I think the leadership in Rotary is approaching the problems head on. They aren’t running away and doing a good job at getting people to become part of the solution. — Bill David, Rotary Club of Providence, Rhode Island, USA

Join the fun on the final day of the Sydney convention

There’s plenty on the agenda for the final day of the 2014 Rotary Convention in Sydney.

Here are a few highlights:

  • The fourth plenary session at 10 a.m. will preview next year’s convention in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and will include speeches from 2015-16 RI President K.R. “Ravi” Ravindran, Renee Saunders, senior public health advisor for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Ronald S. Kawadda, who will talk about New Generations.
  • The convention will come to a close during the final plenary session at 4 p.m. 2014-15 RI President Gary C.K. Huang will outline his upcoming year as Rotary president, while President Ron Burton gives his closing remarks on his term in office. The TEN Tenors will entertain with their repertoire of rock opera.
  • As the sun sets, make your way to the Sydney Showground for an Australian Bush Dance at 6 p.m.

Convention attendees talk about day 3 speakers

Day 3 of the convention featured inspiring speeches by Paralympian and polio survivor Ade Adepitan, Foundation Alumni Award winner Maya Ajmera, and former Rotary Peace Fellow Mwila Chigaga. We got an update on where we stand with eradicating polio by Assistant Director-General of WHO Bruce Aylward. Plus a surprise announcement from Sir Emeka Offor who committed $1 million to PolioPlus.

Here are a few reactions outside the Allphones Arena after the third plenary:

I liked hearing from Ade. His speech was very good. I felt it was very off the cuff and genuine. I thought that was the most inspirational piece of the program. I learned a lot about where we are at with polio eradication. — Matthew Rich, Rotary Club of Northfield, Minnesota

It [third plenary] was extremely good with speakers who inspired us to keep our commitment to eradicating polio strong. It showed us that our great commitment to eradicating polio. We should be able to achieve this. All of the speakers were very, very good. I couldn’t identify any one speaker that was my favorite. They were all incredible. – Godfrey Egwau, Rotary Club of Soroti, Uganda

My favorite was Ade. His determination to do something and change his life was inspirational. He was really great. I learned a lot about the progress we’re making with polio eradication. I am a foundation alumni, so I really enjoyed hearing from the scholar recipient speakers. [Maya Ajmera; Mwila Chigaga]. And what they were able to accomplish with the little investment we [Rotary] were able to give them. – Alicia Cerruti, former Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar and member of the Rotary Club of Petaluma, California

Today, all the speakers were very good. But particularly Ade [Adepitan], he was just brilliant. His message was that polio eradication is possible. Bruce Aylward gave us a clear picture of what we have to do in Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. I was happy to hear about the progress made in Nigeria. — Dr. R. Bharat, governor-nominee of District 3250 in India.

If you were there, share your thoughts about today’s speakers in the comments section.

Labyrinth for Literacy


Local primary school children listened this morning as RI Past President Bill Boyd, his wife, Lorna, and Australian author Nicole S. Kelly read children’s story books in Rotary’s Labyrinth for Literacy. The children, from Jarjum College and Mount Carmel in Sydney, were delighted when they learned they would also receive a book of their own to take home. The Literacy Rotarian Action Group organized the event as part of Rotary’s convention.

World’s biggest commercial

Since Rotary launched the World’s Biggest Commercial on 24 October 2012 (World Polio Day), more than 90,000 people from 170 countries – including over 150 celebrities – have uploaded photos of themselves showing that we’re “This Close” to eradicating polio.

And now it’s official! It was announced today that we set a Guinness World Record for largest photo awareness campaign.

To date, we have about 102,170 images. Brazil tops the list with 45,078 photos. See where your country ranks. And add your photo to the World’s Biggest Commercial before it ends 30 June. It’s a fun, easy way to show your support for our work to end polio.

Day two plenary reaction

Jack Sim

Jack Sim, founder of the World Toilet Organization, speaks at the Rotary International Convention in Sydney.

We reached out to Rotarians to hear what they thought of today’s plenary speakers: Jack Sim, founder of the World Toilet Organization (WTO); Professor Martin Silink, president of the International Diabetes Federation; Tommy Spaulding, a former Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar and leadership expert; and Brett Lee, Australian cricket star.

Here’s what they had to say:

The presentation from Martin Silink was just fantastic. The story that he told and how that resolution was passed was remarkable. He saw the need and carried on with it, as Rotarians do. They see something and run with it. That is what Rotary is all about.– John Norris, Rotary Club of Toronto, Australia.

I like the way there was a segue from Mr. Toilet who has a UN Day into Martin [Silink] who fought for a UN Day for diabetes. Both are world problems. Then it [plenary] led into leadership. For me seeing how Rotary took a young life [Spaulding] and made him into such a great leader was remarkable.. The speakers showed how Rotary can change the world. — Tania Mace, Rotary Club of Lane Cove, Australia.

Doctor Toliet [Sim] was really funny but had a good message to pass on… The professor [Silink], he encouraged us to never to give up and this is something Rotarians need to learn from. Never give up, even when the odds seem to be stacking up against you…Brett Lee has an amazing organization — Zaki Dorkham, Rotary Club of South Bundury, Australia.

As a new club officer I really appreciated what the speaker on leadership [Spaulding] said. He gave me some ideas on how to recruit younger people in Rotary, which is crucial for not only my club but Rotary as a whole. Each one did something for me in terms of understanding the expansion of what Rotary does. Today taught me about Rotary being a caring organization…I’m the only one in my club here, but I wish I had other members sitting next to me. I was imagining turning to them and saying “Yeah, yeah, we can do something like that. We are interested in literacy and being here I feel like I can connect with an international club. — Betty Mceary, president-elect of the Rotary Club of Oakland Sunrise, California.