submitted by Bill Maule
The Rotary International Convention
For the second year in a row, I learned that attending a Rotary International Convention is inspiring , educational, and fully in compliance with the fifth part of our four way test!
I missed the opening ceremony because of conflict with my grandson's college graduation, but I remember from Seoul the spectacle of the presentation of the flags of over a hundred nations. In Atlanta there were four other grand  meetings - Wow! sharing  a room with over thirty thousand Rotarians from around the world, all united in the ways and wonders of Rotary, a truly international organization. The speakers may have looked a mile away, but giant screens put everybody up close and personal.  The main themes were the 100th birthday of our Foundation, and the Polio Plus campaign.  Yes, we really are "this close" to the end of this horrible disease, but it is not officially extinct until there have been no cases for three years.  In these days of air travel, the threat of an outbreak is always present.  All of us should consider including Polio Plus in our contributions to the Foundation. ( Now I break for "a commercial"  -  Let us all support the Foundation in this new Rotary Year.  Just  $6.25 a quarter will help the Foundation in its efforts to do good at home and abroad and will also assist  the Club gain recognition if all its members contribute at least $25 a year. Better yet,  there's a  way to celebrate the Foundation as it enters its second century.  Each quarter contribute $25 and join your colleagues who are Sustaining Members. That's  a bit less than 30 cents a day!)
Speakers included Bill Gates  who praised Rotary -  and our methods  that had attracted his Foundation's mega-contributions to anti-Polio efforts. That was followed by a  presentation by a polio survivor now a para-Olympic champion, and then an interview with  great golfer Jack Nicklaus. also a polio survivor, a Polio Ambassador, and since recent days a Rotarian.
There were other speakers, too numerous to mention, but the most inspiring was Ambassador Andrew Young, a close associate of Martin Luther King.
There were also dozens of "breakout sessions" covering a wide variety of Rotarian subjects.
  I was honored to be your official representative and cast our vote for the new Rotary International President, Ian Riseley from Australia. (Actually,this was  just a legal but symbolic  necessity because  new Presidents must be selected years in advance)
There were also lots of "extracurricular activities", including  "home hospitality",  tours of the CDC, Delta Flight Museum,  Coca Cola headquarters, etc. etc., but these conflicted with more important things. Also, I wanted to spend time in the "House of Friendship". As was the case in Seoul,  this appeared to cover acres of space.  There were commercial booths, selling everything from trinkets to Porsche  and Audi cars!  Of more importance,  there were booths from other Clubs and Districts,  related cooperating causes and charities, chances to chat with Rotarians from around the world, vendors of Rotary clothing and such,  of "Southern culture, arts, crafts", and specific projects, one of which we might want to support. Much more fun were booths for seemingly never-ending Rotary Action Groups and Fellowships.  Something for everybody! Rotarian motorcycle riders (Don?),  bird watchers (for me!), teachers (De'  ?), quilters (Nancy?), bridge players, musicians, doctors,  and on and on.  There is even a fellowship of Rotarian whisk(e)y drinkers - for lots of us!
And finally,  there was a grand booth for next year's Convention in Toronto. Hey,  that's just across the border and a bit to the east! I confess I signed up to attend.  During this convention that was at half price!  The price is still deeply discounted on the web site, so I suggest that some of you grab the opportunity.  If you change  your mind,  refunds are possible up to a specified date.
Yes,  I had a lot of fun. You don't believe me?  Check out  and see all the speeches  in good audio and glowing color. Perhaps you will be inspired to join me in Toronto.  Don't forget!  The price keeps going up!