Sydney, Australia – International Convention

The Rotary International Convention in Sydney, Australia was certainly a week of “verbs”. I laughed, cried, spoke up, pushed my limits, challenged and was challenged, saw old friends and met new ones. I was proud and humbled. My eyes were opened as well as my heart. Most importantly, I developed and celebrated. To those who shared these actions and emotions with me, thank you. I was able to exchange ideas with leaders from around the world at Rotary’s largest event, the RI convention, held from June 1 to June 4, 2014. Attending the RI convention made me even prouder to be a Rotarian. It was an incredible experience!

As Rotary members from around the world filed into Allphones Arena for the opening ceremony of the 2014 International Convention in Sydney, they were greeted by news that the Australian government will commit $100 million over five years to help eradicate polio. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and New South Wales Premier Mike Baird were on hand to address the convention and assure Rotary members of Australia’s commitment to their cause. Abbott has been at the center of attacks in recent days for his proposed federal budget, but he walked out to a standing ovation.

One of the highlights of the convention for me was the President Elect’s Luncheon. I was at the table with the Rotary Director from Germany and his wife. It was such a pleasure to have the chance to interact with Rotarians from across the world. The opening and closing sessions were motivational and entertaining. I especially enjoyed the Parade of Flags. Spending time in the International House of Friendship was inspirational to see all the different ways that Rotary contributes to the betterment of mankind. 2014 Rotary Convention ends with the passing of the torch.

RI President Ron Burton put the final touches on the 2014 Rotary Convention in Sydney by reminding a packed Allphones Arena why they joined Rotary.

“Being a Rotarian isn’t about our own achievements, it isn’t about our own careers, it really isn’t about us at all. It’s about the people we help,” said Burton. “At the end of the day, the only thing that matters in Rotary is how much better the world becomes because Rotary is in it.”

The four-day event, which drew to a close on 4 June, attracted more than 18,000 attendees from 153 countries. Burton encouraged convention goers to return to their clubs ready to do more to improve the lives of others.

“Together, we can dream big and we can achieve. We can change whole communities for the better, not for a day but for a lifetime,” he said.

Rotary changes lives by improving literacy, making water cleaner, bringing better health care to mothers and children, and eradicating polio worldwide, Burton said. But he warned that complacency could set Rotary back.

“That’s why it isn’t enough for any of us to just go through the motions, to show up at our clubs, to do just the minimum needed and no more,” he added. “And it’s why each of us has to remember, every hour of every day, what a responsibility we have.”
Huang sets goal of increasing membership

Members of Burton’s Rotary Club of Norman, Oklahoma, United States, and RI President-elect Gary C.K. Huang’s club of Taipei, Taiwan, took the stage to exchange club banners, a tradition that unofficially marks a changing of the guard.

Huang will become Rotary International president on 1 July. During his term in office, he has set a goal of growing Rotary’s membership to 1.3 million. Huang told the audience that increasing and sustaining membership will help Rotary achieve its goals. He shared a story about a small Taiwanese club that had only six members. But after asking their wives to join, the club grew to 29 members in three years because the spouses asked their friends to become members as well.

“I want to remind everyone that sometimes getting a new member is as easy as asking,” said Huang, whose wife, Corinna, became a member in July. “It made perfect sense. She was a great match for Rotary. Corinna enjoyed it so much that our three children joined Rotary as well. They have been around Rotary their whole lives. They did not need to be convinced. It was a natural step for them,” said Huang.

Huang, whose presidential theme for 2014-15 is Light Up Rotary, also encouraged members to conduct Rotary Days throughout the year to help the community become more familiar with Rotary’s work.

“It can be a day to educate your community about polio, it can be a service project, or a celebration. Just make sure to invite the public, your families, and friends,” he said. “Show your community what you do, both locally and internationally. Make sure your community knows that Rotary is there, that Rotary is active, Rotary is fun, and it is doing good work.”

Huang gave attendees three words to guide them this year: hand, head, and heart. “Use your hand to help, use your head to make sure you are helping in the right place, and use your heart to make it sincere. Without your heart, nothing else matters.”

Below is a history lesson of two very important Rotary traditions the emblem and the Four Way Test.

Rotary’s early emblem was a simple wagon wheel (in motion with dust). It was designed in 1905 by Montague M. Bear, a member of the Rotary Club of Chicago who was an engraver. He designed the emblem to represent both civilization and movement. Most of the early Rotary clubs adopted the wheel in one form or another.

In 1922, the organization decided to create and preserve an emblem for the exclusive use of all Rotarian’s and the following year, the present emblem, a gearwheel with 24 cogs and six spokes was adopted. A key-way was added to signify the usefulness of the gearwheel.

An official description of the emblem was adopted at the 1929 International Convention. Royal blue and gold were chosen as the official Rotary colors and the flag of Rotary was designated as a white field with the emblem emblazoned in its center. The emblem, worn as a lapel pin, now identifies Rotarian’s around the world.

From the earliest days of the organization, Rotarian’s were concerned with promoting high ethical standards in their professional lives. One of the world’s most widely printed and quoted statements of business ethics is The Four-Way Test, which was created on 1932 by Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor (who later served at RI president) when he was asked to take charge of a company that was facing bankruptcy.

This 24-word test for employees to follow in their business and professional lives became the guide for sales, production, advertising, and all relations with dealer and customers, and the survival of the company is credited to the simple philosophy. Adopted by Rotary in 1943, The Four-Way Test has been translated into more than a hundred languages and published in thousands of ways. It asks the following four questions:

Of the things we think, say or do:

Is it the TRUTH?
Is it FAIR to all concerned?
Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

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