by Graham Shular
Rotaract is a thriving organization. You can find a Rotaract Club pretty much anywhere in the world where there is also a Rotary Club. Rotaractors have also been able to organize themselves incredibly well. “Rotaract Round Trips” exist in most parts of the world, and give young people many different opportunities to travel, visit, and get to know Rotaractors from different countries. I believe that these opportunities help to ignite the spirit of Rotary in young people because they invite Rotaractors to share in the worldwide celebration of doing service and to develop as global citizens eager to help others, and each other. Interota is the apex of these global celebrations. Interota Toronto-Montreal invited over 200 delegates from dozens of countries to gather here in Canada for a weeklong conference, which highlighted many things including service projects, professionalism and club management, and VIP guest speakers. Interota 2014 was a spectacular event, and successfully showcased the best of our local Rotaract talent to the world.
The international conference began in Ontario’s capital city, Toronto, at the University of Toronto’s Victoria College. After a splendid barbeque, country presentations, and welcomes from Interota co-chairs Sean (RI 7040) and Andrea (RI 7080), we found comfortable lodgings in the dormitory styled residence at the University. The Toronto leg of the experience had many different highlights. We were in the city for just two full days, yet we still managed to experience many things! My two favourite highlights from Toronto were getting to hear from different Rotaractors from different regions of the world explain how they conduct service in their communities. It was fascinating listening to the different strategies used by Rotaract Clubs from different parts of the world (shout out to Annie Chu – RI 7080 for organizing this edition of Annie’s Corner!). I also really enjoyed getting to know many of our visitors better while on the Toronto Harbour Boat Cruise. The food was great, the music was great, and I think I saw RI President Gary dancing!
Our second leg of the trip was to one of Canada’s most impressive natural wonders: Niagara Falls. The impressive spectacle delighted everyone (even those from Ontario who have visited the Falls numerous times before). It felt really amazing to go behind the Falls to experience the power of the falling water from the unique perspective behind the waterfall. Visiting Niagara Falls was definitely a highlight of Interota, but the true joy was being able to experience them with so many visitors who had never seen them before.
Alas, the time had come for us to depart Canada’s largest city. We boarded early morning VIA Rail cars and travelled to Montreal. Of course, it wouldn’t have been a proper Toronto experience if our guests had not experienced Toronto’s infamous rush hour (Zain and I almost missed our train)! The train ride provided many of us with wonderful glimpses of Ontario and Quebec’s vast farmland and mature woodlots.
While in Montreal we had the wonderful opportunity to help clean the city up during an outing to Parc Jeanne-Mance. Many of us climbed up Mont-Royal afterwards, and took in the wonderful sights of downtown Montréal from the many nature trails in the park. We had many other important presentations in Montreal, including the bidding presentation and voting for Interota 2017 (congratulations, Taiwan!), professional development seminars (including conflict resolution and communication), and time to explore the historic old-town of Montreal.
A highlight of the Montreal leg of Interota was the opportunity to listen to Dr. Bob Scott, the Chair of the Rotary International Polio Plus committee. His inspiring presentation humanized the very dangerous, but necessary struggle to provide polio vaccines to every child in parts of the world where polio still threatens human health. I always knew that Rotary International was doing its best to eradicate polio, but I never really considered just how complex – and urgent – the last 1% of the job is. I know I’ll be doing my best to help eradicate polio in the coming years.
I want to take this opportunity to thank Andrea Tirone, Sean Yaphe and the entire Interota 2014 team (you know who you are) for organizing a spectacular conference. Special thanks goes also to the Rotary Clubs who helped to orchestrate as much as they could as well. What a wonderful team of service to be a part of. A final thank-you goes to RI President Gary Huang. It was truly inspirational to have our RI President give us all the inspiration we need to “Light Up Rotary” every day. I look forward to seeing you all before Interota 2017 – when ‘InteroTaipei’ will be held in Taipei, Taiwan. In the meantime, we from the Rotaract Club of Toronto miss you all very much! Let’s continue to Light Up Rotary in all that we do through Rotaract!
by Sara Rofle-Hughes
The Rotary Club of Toronto held their weekly Rotary Lunch on October 17th. As part of their 2014 Zone Institute, the lunch featured special guest speaker Ravi Ravindran, current President-Elect of Rotary International. The Rotary Club invited members of our Rotaract Club and outside Rotary clubs to attend, and over approximately 600 people turned out for a delicious meal and an inspiring speech by Mr. Ravindran.
He talked about his personal connection and dedication to Lego’s motto “only the best is good enough,” and his plans to apply that motto to the way Rotary International is run. The President-Elect was blunt about his desire to gradually run Rotary International like a business, as a benefit to the club, it’s beneficiaries, committees, members, and future members. This includes having high-ranking members fund their own travel and accommodations, saving the club thousands of dollars. Although Mr. Ravindran admitted his decisions might not at times be popular, they are made in the interest of the club. The standing ovation he received signified the support Mr. Ravindran has from the Rotararians of Ontario.
In addition, Mr. Ravindrian spoke about his passion for the eradication of polio as his country’s national PolioPlus chair, about his time as a Rotarian since he joined at the age of 20, and how his persistence and perseverance pulled him and his family through hard times and helped him create a tea label-printing company that produces over 100,000,000 labels a day.
The lunch proved insightful (and tasty), and was a treat for those who had never attended a Rotary lunch before. Rotaracters are encouraged to attend the next Rotary lunch our club is invited to, as it’s a great way to see how far Rotary spans and to see Rotarians in action.
By Sarah Hui
At our next meeting on Monday, October 20th you are invited to pitch your idea to the club and panel for the charity organization(s) that should be the recipient of our 2015 fundraiser’s proceeds of $5,000. We are looking for local charities only. Please be sure to send Fatima (email@example.com) a brief history of the charity, their plan for the funds and a copy of their most recent financials by Thursday October 16. This will be a fun and interactive meeting where YOU can make a difference.
by Andrea Tirone
Three years ago, fellow club members, Netila Demneri and Anthony Scolaro, decided to attend Interota 2011 in Hurghada, Egypt, one of the longest running conferences for Rotaractors, completely hosted by Rotaractors. Always guaranteed to be a great time, Netila and Anthony were persuaded by Andrea Tirone and Sean Yaphe (of District 7040) to help them put in a bid to host the conference for the first time in Canada in 2014. After a week of campaigning and forging new, long-lasting friendships, Canada successfully won the bid and Interota was coming home!
It seems almost impossible to think that the conference has now come and gone – from beginning our planning in 2011 to the next three years of constant communication, promotions around the world and finally welcoming all the delegates to Victoria College in Toronto – the Interota 2014 experience was definitely a Rotaract milestone for many of us here in Toronto and Montreal!
From July 26th to August 1st, 2014, over 200 Rotaractors, representing 38 different countries descended upon Toronto to participate in the 7-day long Rotaract Conference. Delegates had the opportunity to visit three of Canada’s best cities, including three days in Toronto, a day-trip to Niagara Falls and three days in Montreal. Starting with a welcome BBQ and country presentations, the “Welcome Home” theme of the conference invited all delegates to bring a piece of their home to Toronto. From spectacular dancing, and soulful singing, to hilarious comedic interludes, delegates did a fantastic job bringing the global community to Canada and helped start off the international conference on the best of notes! Over the course of the week, delegates had the opportunity to hear from the current RI President, Gary Huang, current District Governors, Zone Directors, and inspiring topical speakers who touched on intercultural communication, community service, conflict resolution, finding balance, putting Rotaract on your resume and exploring aboriginal culture in Canada.
Balance being the second major theme of the week, conference organizers made sure that the Interota program also included sessions ‘outside of the classroom’. In an effort to show delegates the best of what Toronto and Montreal have to offer, delegates enjoyed boat cruises, sky-high cocktails, cross-country train rides and more, including an outdoor clean-up project at the base of Mont Royal and a morning of physical activity including yoga, meditation and a jog.
To complete the circle of the past three years, the final day of the conference offered five bidding teams the opportunity to convince everyong that Interota 2017 should come home with them. The bidding teams, including: Australia, Taiwan, Costa Rica, India, and Germany/Netherlands, gave us all a difficult choice to make, but in the end Taiwan was the clear winner!
In the spirit of celebration and well-wishes to the Interota 2017 team, we closed the week with an evening gala at the Delta Montreal hotel. Former Chair of the Polio Plus Committee, Dr. Bob Scott spoke to us about Pax Polio, and the need to give that final push towards ending Polio now. Entertainers Meiling Fong and Eric Speed, the world’s fastest electric violinist, performed throughout the evening, which ended with dancing into the wee hours of the night.
Even though Interota has finished and the delegates have all gone home, the conference successfully created a community of Rotaractors, some who were acquainted beforehand, but many others who were not, who continue to communicate, collaborate and share their stories with one another. The Interota 2014 team is very appreciative to the immeasurable support and guidance given by Rotary clubs in Districts 7070 and 7040 and also to the Rotaractors in both districts who offered their time and efforts to help make the week a success.
If you did not have the opportunity to attend Interota this year, you may want to consider the upcoming Rotaract Preconvention in Sao Paolo, Brazil or even Interota 2017 – though you still have three years to wait on that one! Meeting international Rotaractors provides a truly wonderful and different perspective to your experience in Rotaract – we are positive that Interota 2014 succeeded in its goal to provide that opportunity and was a wonderful week for all!
By Eric Muller
September 8, 2014
The Rotaract Club of Toronto’s first September meeting kicked off with high-speed energy!
As part of the Club’s Professional Development programming, the meeting revolved around an exciting speed networking activity.
About 30 members and guests participated, including high profile guests such as current Rotary Club of Toronto President Steve Smith and Past President Neil Phillips.
Two lines of people stood facing each other, drinks in hand, and after only one minute of conversation, they would shift one spot to the left and greet the next person in line.
The room was loud and full of energy! It was clear that everyone was highly engaged.
After the activity was over, one participant said that it was the best meeting they had ever experienced in over two years with the Club.
Another guest expressed his amazement with how effectively everyone was able to communicate their ‘elevator speeches’ as the activity progressed.
Rotaract members are looking forward to many more exciting Professional Development activities and events over the coming year, especially those involving Rotarians!
by Caitlin Masney
On Saturday August 30, a group of volunteers from Rotaract Toronto cooked lunch for around 150 people at the Fort York Food Bank. When we arrived at around 8:30 am we were greeted by a giant box of carrots, some Cesar salad dressing, a bag of sausage meat, and a lot of potatoes. We started cooking right away in order to make sure we were able to finish in time for lunch and to make sure we cooked enough food. We decided to cook a pasta dish, roasted some sweet potatoes, and boiled carrots and potatoes. This kept us busy all morning and we were able to cook a large amount of food in time for lunch.
As always, volunteering at the Fort York Food Bank is a challenging but rewarding experience. It’s a challenge because you never know what ingredients you will be given each time, but you know the food is precious so it is important to use all of it. It’s rewarding, because from the kitchen you can see and talk to the individuals and families that rely on the food bank to live. If you haven’t volunteered with the food bank yet I would recommend you do so, you won’t regret it.
by Andrea Tirone
On Saturday, August 23 Rotaractors and Rotarians got together in the early morning for a round of disc golf. From seasoned amateur to the newest beginners, a team of 8 played 10 holes on the 18-hole course located on Ward’s Island. Becoming familiar with this relaxing game aside, the group bonded over stories of travel, career transitions and upcoming adventures! This weekly tradition for Rotarians Lorna and Cliff Johnson is one that should be enjoyed by all, if for no other reason than to learn how to throw a Frisbee and hear the clatter of the basket chains as you score your point on the serene Toronto Islands.