R. I. President & TRF Chair's Monthly Messages

Rotary International President Sakuji Tanaka's October 2012 Message

RI President's Message - October 2012

Dear fellow Rotarians,

Every Rotarian is different. Every Rotarian was drawn into Rotary for different reasons, and many vividly remember their first "Rotary Moment" – the moment when they went from being members of their Rotary clubs to being committed Rotarians.

I love hearing these stories and learning about what drew each Rotarian into Rotary. For some, it was a Rotary office, a particular project, or a convention. For me, it was a speaker at an ordinary weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Yashio, about two years after I'd joined.

I am a charter member of my club, and I was invited to join by the charter president. I had never heard of Rotary, and at the time, I didn't really know what service meant. But I was new to Yashio. I had just moved there from Tokyo, and I didn't know many people. I thought Rotary would be a good way to make friends and to help my business, and I respected the person who invited me, so I joined.

But to be honest, for the first two years, we didn't do much. Every week, I came to my meeting, I ate lunch, and I listened to a speaker. I paid my dues, and I gave money to The Rotary Foundation. But I wasn't involved in any service. I didn't know what Rotary service was supposed to be.

That all changed one week, when we had a speaker who talked about vocational service. This was a new idea to me. Until then, I had never thought much about the purpose of my life, or why I was in business. I was too busy working. I was always focused on my business, and on how to make it larger and better. I never stopped to consider any deeper purpose of my work.

Understanding the idea of vocational service completely changed my attitude toward my work, and toward my own purpose in life. I realized that the goal of a person doing business is not only to earn a living. The purpose is to be a contributing member of the community, to make the community stronger, and to help make other people's lives better. When I understood this, and understood the concept of Service Above Self, it changed my life – and set me firmly on the path to a life of Rotary service. That is my Rotary Moment.

Sakuji Tanaka
President, Rotary International
"Peace Through Service"


TRF Chairman PRIP Wilf Wilkinson's October 2012 Message

Trustee chair's message - October 2012

A New Approach to Vocational Service and Training

In 2013, all districts will have the opportunity to support vocational training teams (VTTs) with Rotary Foundation grants. These teams of Rotarian and non-Rotarian professionals will travel abroad to meet a humanitarian need, either by teaching local professionals about a particular field or learning more themselves.

VTTs, like Group Study Exchanges (GSEs), can be sponsored by district grants, which have no area of focus requirements. Districts 6200 and 9600 used district grants to organize a VTT exchange dealing with the environmental impact of oil spills. VTTs can also be sponsored by global grants.

Some districts have expressed disappointment that the Foundation will no longer support the GSE program. However, many districts have had difficulty finding professionals who meet the program requirements, forcing the Foundation to grant dozens of exceptions to the GSE guidelines every year. Under Future Vision, districts can still sponsor such activities through district grants and search for partners on the District Grant VTT Partner Forum on LinkedIn.

Unlike GSEs, VTTs have no restrictions on participant age or length of training. They also offer an opportunity for the hands-on activity with lasting impact that many GSE participants have requested. The GSE program established the Foundation's commitment to vocational training; VTTs are taking that commitment to a new, more dynamic level.

I encourage every district to take advantage of the humanitarian service that can be generated by a VTT, once Future Vision is fully introduced on 1 July. This doesn't mean that your Foundation won't allow GSE teams. They will still be funded, but with the money allocated to the district, and only when the district committee feels that it will be a meaningful exchange.

Wilfrid J. Wilkinson
Foundation Trustee Chair

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