Posted by Sheila Breen, Arizona e-Club
A record-setting 26,000 Rotarians from around the world convened in Hamburg for the 110thannual convention. Signs all over the city welcomed and helped them find their way to the Hamburg Messe, whether walking, riding in a cab or using the public transportation system…which was free for Rotarians with their convention badges.
The Opening Ceremony and General Sessions were hosted by Haresh Ramchandani who added a touch of class, and entertainment, to the proceedings. Because of the number of people in attendance, Rotary International created a new option: The Inspiration Lounge, where attendees could relax at tables, lounge chairs, high top tables or regular seating for the Opening Ceremony, General Sessions, Closing Ceremony and some breakout sessions that were broadcast to that venue. Drinks and snacks were available for purchase and Lucky Larry, a Rotarian from Nevada, won $1 registration for next year’s convention in Honolulu. 
Here is a summary of many of the presentations made during the convention: 
Dr. Marianne Azer, member of the Egyptian member of Parliament, talked about the importance of diversity within Rotary and, especially, ensuring that women are equal members of Rotary clubs throughout the world.
Thato Kgatlhanya founded the Rethaka Group as a high school student in South Africa. She started by repurposing plastic bags and other plastic waste to make backpacks in which she included a solar-powered lantern so students could study at night, since they didn’t have electricity at home.
Lark Doley, President of Toastmasters International, talked about a new collaboration between Toastmasters and Rotary International that will benefit both organizations. 
Steve Farber, Founder & CEO of the Extreme Leadership Institute, encouraged Rotarians to approach their work with love. He recognizes that this isn’t the first word many people use in a professional setting. Extreme Leadership is the dynamic interplay of fear and love—two of the most powerful forces in the human experience. Those who actively and intentionally use fear and love every day I their attempts to change things for the better—in whatever arena—are Extreme Leaders.
“There are many people who think they want to be matadors, only to find themselves in the ring with 2,000 pounds of bull bearing down on them, and then discover that what they really wanted was to wear tight pants and hear the crowd roar.” – Terry Pearce, San Francisco Examiner
Daniel Flynn is the Managing Director & Co-Founder of Thankyou. He talked about starting a company from scratch and having no idea how to do this, especially when the goal is to use 100% of the profits to save lives all over the world. Their use of social media to pressure big stores to carry their products, and printing a book, Chapter One, horizontally so it will attract attention when it is being read, all break the mold of traditional business practices. They also sell Chapter Onefor whatever price people want to pay. His message encouraged Rotarians to look at different ways to do things and remember that ‘Impossibility is only someone’s opinion, not a fact.’
Chris Wells, Rotaractor from DRR 1070 in England, started a Rotaract club to engage others in projects that would change their community and grow out from there. He talked about “DOGOODERY,” which inspired many attendees to buy tee shirts and spread the word!
Michael Zaffron, Director of Polio Eradication for WHO and Chair of the Strategy Committee, Global Polio Eradication Initiative for Rotary International, gave a Polio update. By the end of this year, Nigeria will be certified as polio-free. Pakistan and Afghanistan are the last two countries with disease and the incidence is less than 100 cases per year. Rotary International and the Gates Foundation are set to make the final push to totally eradicate polio soon!
Badarch Tuguldur reported on a 3-part Global Grant among Mongolia, Korea Poland, Hong Kong that included: 1) Development of an app to help diagnose and treat dermatological conditions in remote areas of Mongolia, using wireless 4G internet and a Smartphone, 2) A drone competition in secondary schools and universities, with over 200 student participants and 3) A Hip Hop Dance contest called “Rookie Stars.” They also developed a massive social media presence to publicize these programs.
A Session about Getting Your Story Covered in the News included a discussion on the different types of media/publicity opportunities available to clubs and what constitutes news. The factors that make a message worthy of attention include: News Hook, Timeliness, Proximity, Prominence, Consequence, Conflict/Controversy, Human Interest, Visually Compelling and Supporting Data that captures interest. For Rotary, specifically, there is a “People of Action Story Framework” that includes a Problem, how it came to the attention of Rotary, what Action was Taken and what Impact they made.
They also talked about the changing face of Rotary and added this photo of Paul Harris with a cell phone! The message is that Rotary is changing and we need to keep up with those changes. For example, in the polling information presented, the top two issues of young people are 1) protecting the environment and 2) equality between men and women. Getting the attention of these young people and engaging them with Rotary will be essential to the future of the organization.
Finally, a village in Ethiopia needed a Family Health Center. Through connections with Rotary, Chuck and Dee Howey funded the construction of a medical center that grew into a hospital. The community then requested an elementary school, which evolved into 13 elementary schools and then a high school. All of these amazing projects happened because of Rotarians’ generosity and collaboration with the local community. The amazing part of this story is that the wealth of the local people is tied to the size of their farms. In order to build the high school, the entire community got together and reallocated the farm land, reducing all farms by a small amount but ensuring that the resulting distribution was fair to all of the families. The school was that important to them. The community and Rotary made this dream come true…and then followed up with other dreams that came true as well.
Their next project is to establish a microcredit revolving fund for poor parents of children with Type 1 diabetes, which is a serious issue. They have raised $100,000 USD and submitted a grant to the Rotary Foundation for 50% Global Grant funding. The goal will be to assist 3500 parents over 5 years and to help them generate income that will help them become self-sustaining after 1 year.
The Rotary Foundation Legacy Forum
Brenda Cressey, Chair of The Rotary Foundation, welcomed attendees to the Forum, which was by invitation only. Donors were recognized and thanked for their support of TRF. Updates on Rotary Programs, including Polio Plus and Peace Fellows, were provided. 
The highlight of his Forum was recognition of 24 Rotarians and their partners for either being inducted into the Arch Klumpf Society or upgraded. To be inducted into the Society requires a donation of at least $250,000.
Social Events in Hamburg
Just as important as the sessions are the breakfasts, dinners and Happy Hours where Rotarians gather to meet each other and talk about projects and club challenges. These conversations may have started at airports all over the world as groups of Rotarians traveled on the same planes and made connections with each other during the travel process. The District 5495/5500 combined dinner for Arizona attendees was held at the Hofbrau Haus Hamburg on Saturday, June 1st. We had a fun, noisy group representing our clubs…and gave the soccer fans who joined us a run for their money in the cheering section!
The BigWest Bavarian Buffet Breakfast for attendees in Zones 25, 26, 21B and 27 was also at the Hofbrau Haus on Monday morning. The group of about 200 Rotarians took over the entire restaurant where we enjoyed good food and great company. Director-Elect Johrita Solari gave a great speech about the future of Rotary and the crowd celebrated her selection as one of two women Directors joining the Board next year.
The Rotary International Convention for 2020 will be held in beautiful Honolulu on June 7-10. Make your reservations now!!