Salt Lake City - On the last day of the 2007 Rotary Convention, the plenary session showcased the variety of service opportunities Rotarians enjoy, from working on grassroots projects to serving at the highest levels of Rotary International's leadership.

By Jenny Llakmani
Rotary International News
Photos by Monika Lozinska-Lee/Rotary Images

20 June 2007

A young woman from Turkey, Emine Yüzay, gave a moving speech highlighting how the results of Rotarians' service can expand and multiply. Five years ago, Yüzay, who was born without arms, was an illiterate 17-year-old. Then she took part in a Rotary-sponsored Concentrated Language Encounter program in her working-class neighborhood of Istanbul.

After learning to write with her feet, Yüzay now teaches other women to read and write, demonstrating the ripple effect that so many Rotary programs have. "I tried to do my best to pass what I had learned in CLE courses to other women," she said. "I have never felt so proud and confident in my entire life."

This spring, the Rotary Club of Istanbul arranged for Yüzay to receive prosthetic arms, which she is still learning to use. She said that she was astonished recently when she heard of a recent RI theme: Lend a Hand. "Now," she told the assembled Rotarians, "your hands are mine, and my hands are yours."

Vikram Sanghani of the Rotary Club of Rajkot Midtown, India, spoke about his club's decision to build a US$600,000 dam to provide clean water to 150,000 people living in poverty in his city. Admitting he had no idea how to go about building a dam, he said, "I think there is a saying, 'Rotarians rush in where angels fear to tread.'" Despite an earthquake and other problems, the project was completed on time and on budget. The success of the project has also brought 50 new members into Sanghani's Rotary club.

Hyrum Smith, a member of the Rotary Club of Salt Lake City and co-founder of the consulting firm Franklin Covey, inspired Rotarians with his talk about what he called the abundance mentality. "When you can look in the mirror and say, I have sufficient for my needs, at that moment, you are wealthy," he said. Smith encouraged Rotarians to decide whether they have more than they need, and if so, to use the difference to do good in the world.

It was also an important day for Rotary's leadership, when President William B. Boyd and General Secretary Ed Futa presided over the election of the new RI officers. The highlight came when the voting delegates cast their ballots for Dong Kurn Lee of the Rotary Club of Seoul-Hangang, Seoul, Korea, for president of RI in 2008-09. Lee, who will be RI's first president from Korea, expressed his thanks and his confidence that 2007-08 will be an enjoyable and successful year.

"When I look around me here today, I see men and women from all countries, joined together in our desire for a better world through service and fellowship," Lee said. "I am humbled to have been asked to lead this great organization, and I promise to do my very best to live up to your confidence in me, with the help of all of you."

Also elected today were the RI directors for 2008-10, the district governors for 2008-2009, and the 2007-08 officers of the General Council of Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland.

Ray Klinginsmith, chair of the 2008 Convention Committee, was on hand to invite Rotarians to join him next June in Los Angeles. He noted that more than 3,000 people had already registered at the L.A. convention booth, a new record for on-site registration.


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