Enthusiasm for Rotary is rarely in short supply whether at the club, district or international level. Attending an international conference, however ramps it up to new levels.
I suppose I should have expected as much considering that the majority of Rotarians in attendance were incoming or outgoing, club presidents or district governors or held such positions in the past.
What I didn’t realize, however, was the extent to which the organization of the plenary sessions were designed to enhance a sense of enthusiasm and community around the themes of “Service to Others” in Rotary.
Bringing over 20,000 Rotarians together in one room for a mixture of entertainment, inspirational addresses and a bit of business five times over three days was one sure fired way to create a sense of a oneness out of 30,000 plus clubs or 300 plus districts.
But in another way enthusiasm for Rotary was also constantly encountered at the opposite end of the spectrum, that is, at the level of individual Rotarians. Everyone seemed to have a personal cause or agenda they were promoting and they were not the least bit hesitant to share it with a fellow Rotarian.
Whether it was Rotarians like David and Brenda Newman and Alan Heoft and his wife promoting District 5550’s World Peace Program, Michael Maloney of the Belleville club promoting Amarok Society’s Mothers of Intention literacy program or Ken Dickerson also of Belleville promoting a Cure for AIDS, all demonstrated a talent for selling ideas.
Even commercial venders such as the staff at ClubRunner demonstrated the same kind of enthusiasm. Maybe it had something to do with Adel Asterbadi’s sixteen years as a Rotarian or the fact that both of his young daughters, Halle and Sarah are currently presidents of their respective clubs.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention the enthusiasm with which everyone practiced the key Rotarian principle of fellowship. Being invited to socialize with others over meals is often difficult to achieve for first time attendees. Whether it was eating both deep fried pieces of alligator or tasting turtle soup for the first time, convincing a bartender to put a playoff hockey game on the big screen or listening to an astoundingly accomplished group of high school aged youngsters play jazz at a local eatery/pub during my five days in New Orleans with other Rotarians,; it is an experience I will not soon forget.