Written by Danny Gibson
Rotary International District 9830's 2014 Conference kicked off on Friday evening. Themed around water - the lifeblood of our existence, it was great to kick off for the weekend at the newly opened Maritime Centre.
The Conference was held at St. Brendan-Shaw College's fabulous facilities.
On Friday evening, it was lovely to meet members of the visiting Taiwan (D3460) Group Study Exchange team. Listening to Alan Harris' Denmark team and their adventures in District 1470, reminded me of my wonderful introduction to Rotary. I sat listening to their vocational experiences and their cultural undertakings, so proud of my role in assisting with the selection of such wonderful Tasmanian Rotary ambassadors. Well done Ilya; Tamar Sunrise is indeed very proud to be your sponsoring Club and as you say, if the time is right, we would warmly welcome you to our fold.
Saturday morning commenced with a very hearty cooked breakfast before I explored the Plenary Hall. I could not help but think about our Member-elect Jann, as I perused all manner of Rotary stalls: Local, District, International. What a huge opportunity we have with so many areas to involve ourselves.
The first Keynote Speaker was the Rotary International President's representative, PDG Joanne Schilling. She was genuine, heartfelt and passionate. She encourages us to dare to be different in our Rotary work and to share our stories and our successes.
RYLA past participant, Courtney, spoke of the power of this leadership program. She was wonderful and was full proof of Rotary's commitment to Tasmanian youth. Rotary's Youth Leadership Awards is indeed a program that our Club should regularly support.
The Principal of the school, Frank, shared the relationship that St. Brendan-Shaw enjoys with Rotary. The list of Rotary projects and opportunities that staff and students enjoy was inspiring.
Another GSE presentation, this time the Italy team (D2090), shared their awesome experience. Jason from Launceston and Courtney from the Coast, did our District proud. It was wonderful to see their growth from Selection Day to post-GSE. We should consider inviting Jase to our Club; he is passionate, keen and ready to contribute.
The reality of our International world was brought home by a presentation about Food Plant Solutions. 2,000 x people will have died over the course of the weekend due to hunger related causes. This incredible database of 26,000 x edible food plants and the wonderful aims of this program is indeed worthy of support. How can we consider supporting Food Plant Solutions?
The Rotary Foundation presentation outlined the new Grant procedures and our literacy program was included in a list of very worthy projects. I wonder if, one day, we should consider a Global Grant; raising $15,000 for something important - water, eyesight, nutrition, sanitation and education?
The presentation from the inbound Taiwan GSE team was fun! The Team Leader overviewed his District and explained the programs offered. Crystal, the only female member of the group, spoke of her work at the National Science Museum. She spoke of two wonderful days at our QVMAG. The character of the group, Lawrence, a wine and tea taster, had the audience in fits of laughter. The other two representatives were a pharmacist and national park officer.
The next Keynote Speaker, Dr Sanjita Sharma from Hetauda Community Eye Hospital in Nepal, delivered a passionate and appreciative reflection on Gift of Sight. This is something we should consider. Imagine a group of Sunrisers, sharing the joy with someone who is able to see for the very first time ... Just $44 to change a person's life.
The Youth Exchange presentation was powerful. Sweden's Isabella sung a traditional version of an ABBA favourite, just as beautifully as she performed at our Carols. The eight students sung, danced and had a ball.
Michael Groom, as a Keynote Speaker of outstanding quality, was remarkable. His tale of struggle, determination and extreme persistence ... Wow!
RAWCS is another component of Rotary worth considering. As an Australian company, it has tax deductibility status. I must admit, I find the difference between the Rotary Foundation and RAWCS extremely confusing, so I am keen to organise a Guest Speaker in this area. The Life Straw is something worth looking at, funded through RAWCS, eliminating waterborne disease in disadvantaged communities.
Hamish Graham provided an in-depth presentation about giving. As a more "contemporary" Rotarian, I was delighted to have a young medical practitioner educate older Members about refugees and asylum seekers. I hope that all Rotarians acquired some knowledge and a more informed perspective.
George Lockwood's presentation on Disaster Aid Australia was informative. Another project very worthy of us supporting and a great person to add to our potential Guest Speaker list.
The Dinner Satuday evening was held at the Axeman's Hall of Fame. It was a nice venue with lovely food and plentiful wine. Despite some sound problems similar to the same sound problems at the same venue, at the same Dinner three years back, the MC and the magician act were great. President Melissa and I had a lovely time at this event, chatting with lots of Rotarians, GSE Alumni and new Members. According to PDG Peter Murfett, he selected our table, because he knew it would be fun! I hope we did not let him down! The 11.30pm bus back to the Sunrise Motel (I had to stay there), was filled with song and merriment
Sunday commenced with a very special Remembrance Service. It was a moving commemoration of those Rotarians who have passed to Higher Service, over the past 12 months.
Kamil Douglas, the brother of Caz (Rotaract), delivered a very eloquent speech about the religious contexts of water.
The recently returned Taiwan GSE team, back just 13 days ago, delivered a powerful, fun and very in-depth presentation. Team Leader, Dennis Dwyer, had the audience in fits of laughter. The Team delivered a very high-quality presentation. GSE is a wonderful program worth fighting for. I will invite the Team to make a presentation to our Club.
PDG Ted Richey provided an update on the Queensland Flood Appeal and the Murphys Creek Hall development. The outcomes of this three-year project are truly amazing. It will be concluded this year and is a credit to every Club in Tasmania and indeed Ted's passionate leadership.
Bill Dobson's presentation on ShelterBox was heartfelt. Bill could be added to our Guest Speaker list.
In conclusion, the 2014 District Conference was an energising weekend. I felt proud to fly the flag, along with President Melissa; content that our Tamar Sunrise is kicking goals and contributing to the Rotary ideals.
Rotary Club of Tamar Sunrise