Rotary Convention in Hamburg

zondag 9 juni 2019

As a volunteer Contact Officer for our District 2170 in the Rotary Youth Exchange Program
(for Asia and Oceania to be more specific), I thought It might be useful to attend the Rotary
Youth Exchange Preconvention that was being held in Hamburg this year, to enhance my
knowledge and skills.

The extended training that was given over this 2 day Preconvention and the possibility to
connect personally with people I up until then only communicated with through email was
priceless. To reconnect with fellow engaged Rotarians I already met before sparked a lot of

The following workshops were organized, with many attendees:

  • Friday, 31 May
    • RYE A-Z
    • GDPR & Youth Exchange
    • 6 B’s for All and How to Use them
    • Between Cultures, What is the Bumper?
    • Running your District YE Program
    • Making RYE Accessible to All
    • Rotex: How can we include them in our program?
    • Social Media and Youth Exchange
    • How to Find the Best Host Families
    • How to Manage Crisis
    • How to Develop Exchanges in Developing Countries
    • Supporting Language Acquisition
  • Saturday, 1 June
    • Training Counselors
    • Short Term Exchanges
    • Facilitated Discussion: navigating political unrest and terrorism
    • LGBTQ + Training your team
    • Early Return: Ignore or Improve?
    • Protection our Youth
    • Facilitated discussion: Promoting RYE
    • How to keep the Alumni Engaged with RYE
    • How to run Engaging Orientation Sessions: The science of Learning
    • NGSE: How to carry it effectively
    • Facilitated Discussion: Diversity and Inclusion
    • Mental Health: Awareness and Support


I left the Preconvention with a renewed insight in the Youth Exchange Program, a program I
learned the RI President Barry Rassin considers to be one of the most important programs
of Rotary.

As this Preconvention proceeded the actual RI Convention 2019 that was to be held right
after the Preconvention - curious as I am and never having attended a RI Convention - I
decided to take up holidays to extend my stay in Hamburg in order to be able to attend it as
well, hoping to learn something.

My partner Miquel, as a non-Rotarian, was equally curious and was so kind to join me.
We were excited to run in to our Club member Barbara, and to connect with fellow
Belgians, among which our District Governor Mark, incoming District Governor Marie-
Elisabeth, ERIC President Ben Pintens, and others (but in my opinion way to few
Antwerpians  only about 12 in comparison to busloads of West-Flemmings, Brusseleers,
Walloons, Limburgians, ect.)

What we got to experience at the RI Convention in Hamburg was beyond my expectations.
Rotarians and non-Rotarians from all over the world, from different nationalities,
ethnicities, professional backgrounds, religious beliefs and with different personalities, all
came together under the motto Service above Self.

The spirit was incredible.

During this 4 day RI Convention, the opportunity was given to get connected, to be inspired
and to learn, through various very well organized general- and breakout sessions every day.
The Daily General Sessions were a bit like attending TED Talks, albeit in real life, together
with 20.000 other people.

The topics of the General sessions where:

  1. Capture the moment
  2. Leadership and Integrity
  3. Service
  4. Diversity and Fellowship


As the offered breakout sessions are really too many to include in this article, I will limit
myself to the ones I and/or Miquel attended or wanted to attend but were full:

  • Rotarian Values: Outdated or Essential?
  • Meet Rotary’s People of Action: Young Innovators
  • Strategies for Advancing Women in Rotary Leadership
  • Girls Education: A Game Changer to Improving Communities
  • Transform! How to Lead Clubs and Districts to Be Irresistible
  • Women’s Leadership Skills: Strengthening Our Rotary Legacy
  • Rotary’s Impact on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
  • Rotary and Dictatorship: What We Can Learn Form History
  • Let’s Increase Financial Integrity Around the World!
  • How the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY Method Helps You Successfully Launch Projects
  • Rotary’s Role in Migration and Integration
  • Rotarians Spark Peace Within Their Communities
  • Equipping the Next Generation of Leaders
  • They Sais What?! Build Understanding and Goodwill Through Dialogue
  • CEO Connect: Best Communication Practices for Club Leaders


In the free moments, we also got plenty of opportunity to visit the beautiful city of
Hamburg, enjoy its fish-market, restaurants, landmarks, Rotarian and Rotaract parties (a
very memorable one at the Reeperbahn) and we even joined the Rotarian Metalhead
Fellowship for a heavy metal boat cruise on the river Elbe :-D

We were honored to find out that our fellow Belgian Tom Sauer from the University of
Antwerp received the “Rotary Alumni Global Service Award” for his work against the
proliferation of nuclear weapons. In 1990 he was able to do research in the USA at Harvard
University through a Rotary Foundation Grant. He is featured in this month's Rotary
Contact. Check it out!

As you might be interested in having an experience of what the Convention was about,
capture its spirit, learning more about Rotary and its programs in general, or reconnect to it,
I would very much like you to check out Rotary’s online Learning Centre. You can find it on
the My-Rotary webpage, under the online tools

In this spirit I would finally like to recommend you to attend this year’s District 2170
Conference in Salons Mantovani Oudenaarde on Saturday June 29 nd 2019.
The topic will be Youth.

On Saturday March 28 th 2020 there will be a Rotary Day at the UNESCO in Paris.
Next year’s RI Convention will be held in Honolulu, Hawaii and I hope we will be able to
represent our District and Club in large numbers, under the motto of our incoming RI
President Mark Maloney: “Rotary Connects”.

Much love and yours in Rotary,


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