Presidential Message February 2015

 

GARY C.K. HUANG

As president of Rotary, it’s my job to encourage and inspire Rotarians wherever I meet them. It’s also my job to listen to what they have to say. Whether it’s a successful project or a challenge to overcome, a great Rotary Day or a new idea, I want to hear what Rotarians are thinking, doing, and planning. So whenever I travel, I ask my hosts to talk to me about their clubs. What’s going well, where do they see a need to improve, and what can we at RI headquarters do to help?

The answers are always interesting and often surprising. Sometimes I have a suggestion or an idea to contribute; sometimes I am able to make a connection that will move a project forward. Often, I go back to Evanston with ideas and insights that help guide us in our decisions. But what I value most about these conversations are the stories I hear – the stories that, taken together, tell the story of Rotary.

In Atlanta, I attended a Rotary event honoring teachers and heard story after story about the gift of literacy and how it transforms lives. In Istanbul, I attended a wheelchair race and learned how Turkish Rotarians are working to improve the lives of people with disabilities. In Lima, Peru, I talked to a former Rotaractor who waited nearly 20 years to be invited to join a Rotary club, and heard about how returning to Rotary has transformed her life.

I’ve heard stories that have made me laugh, and stories that have moved me to tears. I’ve heard stories of how our service changes the lives of others, and how it changes us as Rotarians. When I hear these stories, I can’t help but wonder: How many other lives could we change for the better by bringing more people into Rotary? And how many more people could we bring into Rotary simply by sharing our own Rotary stories?

In this Rotary year, I ask all of you to do just that: Share your Rotary stories. Tell them to your friends, on social media, and through Rotary.org. Our Rotary stories are what inspire us, and what encourage others to join us; they help light up our service, as we work to Light Up Rotary.