June 2011

Carl-Wilhelm Stenhammar, Foundation Trustee Chair

Fellowship and friendship are two of the cornerstones on which Rotary is built – two components of Rotarians’ work that are indeed important. At any given meeting, one can only do a certain amount of work during the time allocated for the actual meeting. An equal amount of work is done during coffee breaks, luncheons, dinners, or over a drink in the bar. These opportunities make it possible to get to know the person – or see the face – behind all the e-mails and the phone calls.

Cyberspace has given an opportunity for rapid communication. We can have more frequent meetings at considerably lower costs. But has it helped personal relationships? I doubt it.

The supreme occasion to feel the internationality of our organization is the annual Rotary International Convention – the latest one in New Orleans. To meet and greet Rotarians from all over the world during a period of almost a week is unforgettable. To enjoy the plenaries, to participate in the breakout sessions, to have a meal with new and old friends are highlights during such a convention. In addition, to look at the colorful dresses worn by so many Rotarians, particularly from Africa, Asia, and South America, is an aesthetic delight. May a Rotary International Convention never be transferred to cyberspace!

With due respect for cyberspace, the face-to-face meetings are of highest value. The possibility of a handshake or a hug can never be replaced. If a cyberspace convention were to happen, we shall lose the fellowship and friendship, which are so important when we are Building Communities – Bridging Continents through Service Above Self..