It was a proud moment for me to represent Rotary India at the Rotary International Rotaract and Interact Committee (2017–18) at the RI Headquarters in Evanston. The committee comprises 12 members — six Rotarians and six Rotaractors — from various countries.
From being a shy Rotaractor in 2001–02 to being the President of RAC SBMJC, managing over 360 people, my first stint at management and leadership; serving as President of Rotaract Bangalore South to heading District 3190 as DRR, leading over 40 club presidents and 2,000 Rotaractors; Secretary for the Asian Level Rotaract Heads Meet in 2009; Group Study Exchange member to District 5100, US; addressing the Rotaract Preconvention in New Orleans; Charter President of the Rotaract South Asia Multi-district Information Organisation (RSAMDIO) interacting with more than 50,000 Rotaractors across Asia; Chairman of the 2016 Rotaract Zone Institute; and now being a Member of the Rotary International Rotaract and Interact Committee — it has been an awesome journey trudged hard but with lot of valuable lessons learnt along the way.
Over to Evanston
The Rotaract Interact Committee meeting was held in December at the Board Room on the 18th Floor of the RI Headquarters at the One Rotary Center, Evanston, Illinois.
Co-chairs Tommie Buscemi (USA) and Laura Verdegaal (the Netherlands) called the meeting to order. The meet began with a welcome address by RI Director Gerard Allonneau, the Liaison Director for the Committee.
The RI Secretariat was represented by Adam Doty, Manager – Programmes for Young Leaders, and its Senior Supervisor Jessie Dunbar-Bickmore. Doty briefed us on updates from RI General Secretary John Hewko, followed by Jessie briefing us on updates from the Secretariat. We then started our first discussion — the 2018 Rotaract Preconvention programme.
Just before lunch we proceeded to visit the Rotary Hall of Honour, followed by a group photograph of the Committee and a visit to the Arch C Klumph Society.
Post-lunch we watched on Virtual Reality a gripping video of polio-affected children in India and how they are medically treated. For my fellow committee members, it was a moving experience. Being from India and having seen it at close quarters, it was great to be a vital part of the discussion on improvements for addressing the issue. I also shared my experience on how we go out and administer polio drops and persuade people not to miss out the NIDs.
We then discussed about Rotaract exhibits for the 2018 International Convention in Toronto, a possible Interact Preconvention event and a Committee Alumni gathering. This was followed by a presentation on the Peace-building Summit at the convention by Past RI Vice President Jennifer Jones, and an open house on Rotaractors’ involvement in peace-building endeavours.
The next day we planned the itinerary for Rotaract’s 50th anniversary celebrations and held discussions on the district and regional training formats. The final draft of our recommendations will be submitted to the RI Board of Directors. We were pleasantly surprised when incoming Trustee Chair Ron Burton dropped in at lunch.
We wrapped up our meeting with a quick tour of the 18th Floor and RI President Ian Riseley’s office. The highlight, however, was visiting the historic Room No 711 which has been recreated on the ground floor. It houses some rare artifacts, photographs and documents from the first Rotary office. Rotary was founded on February 23, 1905, in Room No 711 at Chicago’s Unity Building when four friends — a lawyer Paul Harris, mining engineer Gustave Loehr, coal dealer Sylvester Schiele and merchant tailor Hiram Shorey — met to create the world’s first Rotary club.
The author is a member of RI Rotaract-Interact Committee.