Story from Bob Taylor, 2017-18 District 5630 Extension Chair
Past-President, Alma Rotary Club
Usually when you have an opportunity to speak to a Rotary club, it’s in a country club or meeting hall. Seldom do you have an opportunity to speak in a palace. But that’s exactly what I had in January this year, in Cairo, Egypt.
The Cairo Cosmopolitan Rotary Club, in District 2451, meets at the Cairo Marriott, which is built around the Gezirah Palace, modeled after the Palace of Versailles in France. The Palace was built for a visit from French Empress Eugenie, who was in Cairo with her husband, Napoleon III, to attend the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869.
While my wife and I were visiting our daughter, who is a diplomat in Cairo, I had an opportunity to visit the Cairo Cosmopolitan Rotary Club. Before the visit I wrote to the Club President, Tilly Mulder, to see if I could visit while in town. Tilly wrote back and confirmed the visit, told me that the club spoke English, and suggested that I bring some thoughts about American strategies in developing membership as well as discussing club projects.
I presented a slideshow of Alma to give the Cairo club some insight into where I lived, spoke about strategies on building retention and membership, and discussed projects that were relevant to those that could be done in Cairo.
The Club’s welcome of business professionals was infectious. It was a privilege to present my thoughts in their beautiful, fully gilded, two-stories-tall meeting room.
While the Rotary calendar and process is generally the same worldwide, I had a common language to speak through issues and successes they are working on in the club’s service to the people of Cairo, Egypt.
Bonus Visit: Rotary in Rome
When we were in a hotel in Rome during our travels, my wife saw a notice that one of the Rome Rotary Clubs was meeting at the hotel where we were staying. I went to where they were meeting and was introduced to the board who was assembling before the club meeting. They welcomed me and asked some questions regarding women’s equality in U.S. clubs and about getting people to volunteer, among other queries. They were in the process of combining with another Rotary Club in Rome.
They started the meeting at 8:30 that evening and were still going at midnight. Since it was all in Italian, I didn’t stay for the meeting, but I did ask the people at the hotel front desk why it was so long. They answered, “Oh, we just like to talk.”
Editor’s Note: Bob found the club in Cairo by using Rotary International’s Club Finder at Rotary.org/en/search/club-finder. You can also download their free “Club Locator” app. It’s good to use whether you’re traveling abroad or right here in the States!