Recently, in an interaction with The Rotarian magazine, RI President Elect Barry Rassin explained the secret behind Rotary clubs in the Caribbean, where he comes from, having a great relationship with Rotaractors. He said that in the last two years his own club — Rotary Club of East Nassau in the Bahamas — had managed to get “100 per cent transition from Rotaract to Rotary”. And he believes the reason behind this is how the Rotarians in his club treat visiting Rotaractors. First of all, when Rotaractors “come to our club, they’re not our guests for the day. They sign in as members. So right away they’re feeling like they’re a part of us. That’s important.” Not only that; Rassin added that his club members ensure that a Rotarian from their club always goes to Rotaract meetings “so there’s always a connection.” And so it is logical that the conversion happens; “they come and join our club because they know us. We’ve got to keep that connection going.”
The incoming RI President also said that Rotarians could learn a lot from the much younger Rotaractors as they are energetic, passionate, like working with one another and really want to do good in their communities. But their “frustration”, he said, is that they find the transition difficult to a different club with a very different culture, much less energy and where the members hardly know how to use the social media.
To me the last point is really crucial. Perhaps because of the average age of Rotarians, they aren’t really savvy in using the social media. Facebook is, at least in India, their most popular choice when it comes to interacting with each other, not to mention WhatsApp. And both are used most of the time only to post pictures — of their families, holidays, celebrations at festivals and birthdays and exchange greetings. Dissemination of vital information about what Rotary is doing in other parts of their own country, and the world, as also what other voluntary or charitable organisations are doing to change lives and improve livelihoods, is barely shared. Twitter, for example, is a great social media platform, but I barely find a presence of Rotarians, particularly from India, on that platform. But I do see some Rotaract presence on twitter and I am sure they are there in other social media platforms too. Now with Rotary International putting great emphasis on a much wider use of social media to spread the message of Rotary and its core activities, to enhance its public image, you Rotaractors will be doing a great service to Rotarians if the more social media savvy among you volunteer to unravel the hidden treasures of social media platforms, other than FB and WhatsApp, to your seniors. Prowess with technology is the boon of the young; go ahead, make the effort and demystify it for Rotarians, many of who, work so hard to start new Rotaract clubs and open up for you a wonderful world filled with opportunities to do good.