Becoming a Rotary District Governor is a 2 -year journey of preparation, but who could have imagined that the destination for the 2020/21 incumbents would be so different?
I had planned to start my year off with a bang – straight into our District 1200 conference, the day after a joint Rotary and Inner Wheel handover which seemed to me to make perfect sense. Our conference committee had worked tirelessly to create a truly innovative conference programme for one day as opposed to a weekend, whereby we would proactively focus on non-Rotarians as well as Rotarians attending, with a parallel programme of fascinating and fun activities aimed at families – to encourage those who may not normally think of coming along. The best laid plans, and all that…!
Rotary Opens Opportunities
However, as we are all adapting to a new pace and rhythm of life, some aspects of my year as DG do remain as planned. The overarching international theme for 2020/21 is ‘Rotary Opens Opportunities’, and it’s going to be the challenge for me – and indeed for every Rotarian – to spot the opportunities which this coronavirus pandemic has afforded us. The obvious one is the way we can hold meetings.
Adapting to a Virtual World
Most of us are adapting to the virtual world (and some with an impressive grasp of new technology – though I only wish I could count myself in that group!) with meetings on platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, and what this means is that clubs can, in the future, consider holding some of their regular meetings in this way. Whilst not every club or Rotarian may wish to do this, it does mean that we may attract new members who haven’t joined previously because they didn’t actually want to attend regular meetings with meals, etc. It is also the case that we are able to broaden our range of available speakers from an enormous pool of international sources, (and with no associated travel and subsistence costs!) and affords us the ability to invite many more non-Rotarians to zoom into our meetings if the topic is of interest to them.
And indeed, the fact that so many in our communities, and in Rotary, have pulled out all the stops to support others in these strange times, means that there may well be a pool of people who have discovered they enjoy volunteering, and may wish to join Rotary to maintain that sense of purpose, of fellowship, and of achievement. Again, an opportunity for us to showcase our incredible altruistic activities, and invite others to join us. I can’t do it alone – and you can all play your part in making the all important contacts.
Returning to our District Conference plans – well, we’ve postponed to Saturday, April 17th next year, so please do put that date in your diaries and come along to what we hope will still be an interest-filled and rewarding day, with speakers such as Eddie the Eagle and Simeon Moore having confirmed their availability for this new date.
And what if we are all in lockdown again, you may well ask? Let’s hope and pray that is not the case, but if it is, then we will return to our online world and deliver a virtual conference – because life goes on, because many ‘Plan Bs’ and indeed ‘Plan Cs’ may need to be implemented, and because my objective is that we will see positive outcomes in District 1200 in this year. Challenges abound for all of us, but I’m determined that we will major on the silver lining and not the dark clouds of the pandemic!