RI President’s message – February 2014
Source: Rotary International
It was 109 years ago this month that Paul Harris and three of his friends founded the first Rotary club. His goal was simple: to create an oasis of friendship amid a city of strangers, with those who shared his values.
Over time, the philosophy of Rotary developed and matured, and Rotarian ideals expanded to include service, vocational ethics, and international understanding. As Rotary grew and spread, Paul Harris envisioned a world in which conflict would ultimately melt away – a world where personal connections and acceptance of differences would relegate war to history. If people could only come together in a spirit of friendship and tolerance, he felt, they would soon realize how much they had in common.
Paul Harris was fortunate in his lifetime to see the Rotary idea take hold and establish itself in dozens of countries around the world. Every week, in 34,000 communities, his vision lives on in every Rotary club meeting. But nowhere in the world does Paul Harris’ vision take life as vividly as it does at our annual Rotary International convention.
At a convention, for a few short days, we see the world as Paul Harris imagined it: a world where men and women from every corner of the globe come together, to build peace, to serve others, and simply to enjoy one another’s company. Differences of background, politics, culture, and religion are woven together, all part of one bright tapestry. It is an unforgettable experience, one that Jetta and I look forward to every year. Every convention is different, and every one becomes a memory that we cherish.
This year, I will have the tremendous privilege of presiding over the 105th Rotary International Convention in Sydney, 1-4 June. Sydney is a vibrant international hub, a gateway between East and West, and a wonderfully appropriate city to host a Rotary convention. It is tremendously diverse, rich in culture and history, and one of my favorite cities to visit; at once exciting and relaxed, it is a place where I know I will always feel at home – and always find something new to see and do.
In 2014, Rotary members will gather to say G’day from Sydney. We will come together as friends and Rotarians, to reach out to the world and to one another, in an environment where all are welcome. I hope you will join us as we celebrate our successes, look to the future, and discover new ways to Engage Rotary, Change Lives.
Ron D. Burton