Why Should I Go to The Rotary International Convention?

By  Karin Gaffney

I am providing testimonials from our Rotarians who have attended a Rotary International Convention. Here's a testimonial from Past District Governor Carol Toomey of Nashoba Valley Rotary:

My first Rotary International Convention was the 2005 celebration of 100 years of Rotary in Chicago. I was president of my club that year and I went by myself. It was one of the largest conventions in Rotary history but within minutes of arriving in Chicago I bumped into Rotarians from our district: PDG Mike Razza and PDG Suzanne Comer. It was great to see them and I was no longer alone. I met others throughout the next five days. The House of Friendship had entertainment, Rotary projects from all over the world, and a display of many many fellowships. I was hooked.

Since then, I have been to every convention. Each year I get to go to another part of the world: England, Denmark, Portugal, Thailand, Brazil, Australia, South Korea. One of the best conventions was Salt Lake City but Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Montreal were fun too. Sometimes I travel alone but when I get there, I am among friends.  
Some of the best speakers come to speak at conventions. Jane Goodall, Dolly Parton, and many more have been speakers at the morning plenary sessions. And every day we are treated to the best in entertainment like Cirque du Soleil.
The memories of these conventions will be with me forever. I got to see the castle in London and ride the BIG EYE, have clothes made for me in Thailand, pat a koala bear, feed a kangaroo and climb the Sydney bridge. In South Korea, we visited the DMV zone and so on.
One other feature of conventions is lunchtime. Much like the local mall’s food court, at convention, you have multiple choices for lunch. Then, you find a table to sit and eat. When you sit at one of the large round tables, you join other Rotarians. It often happens that there are people from multiple countries sitting at the table. You might have couples from Africa, China, Denmark, and the US: all eating their choice of food. But most of all, I enjoy seeing my Rotary friends, bumping into people I have met at previous conventions, getting together with Rotarians from nearby districts, and meeting new people.
Last year, I had lunch with a governor classmate from Pennsylvania, a father and daughter from China, and best of all, my RI rep aide from Virginia, and my husband. This was one great lunch!
I can’t wait to go to this year’s convention, the celebration of 100 years of the Rotary Foundation. The Aquarium promises to be one of the highlights of the trip though I can’t imagine skipping the coca cola plant. Atlanta, here I come!


For more information on the 2017 RI Convention in Atlanta, click here.
Past District Governor Carol Toomey may be reached at carolrotary@gmail.com.
Next week, I'll have a testimonial from Karen Fusco of Fitchburg Rotary.
District Governor-Elect Karin Gaffney may be reached at karin.gaffney@rocklandtrust.com.