Due to the changes and challenges new guidelines regarding the status of Rotaract bring, RI President 2019/2020 Mark Maloney invited, for the second time in history, a group of Rotaractors, MDIO leaders and DRRs to attend RI’s International Assembly where President Salva Amorós and President-Elect Astrid Durand Viel represented Rotaract Mediterranean.
The International Assembly is Rotary’s biggest annual training event that gathers 527 governor-elects from all over the world to prepare them for leading their districts in the coming year. This year it took place in San Diego, California, from January 19 to 25.
Let us remind you of the Rotaract policy updates which were one of the main reasons RI invited Rotaractors to actively participate at the International Assembly – talk about new ways to collaborate with Rotary members and strategies for leading their fellow Rotaractors – as we all are finding ways to adapt to them. The goal of our MDIO representatives was to explain the governors-to-be what MDIOs are and how Rotary can use our tools as a direct channel of communication with youth around the world.
“Rotaract Mediterranean was lucky to be the only MDIO that received an invitation for two. Astrid and I were excited to speak at this world-class conference on behalf of European, Middle-Eastern and African member countries of our MDIO for the first time. The Mediterranean team did extensive research on the structure of the conference and the attendees; and gathered data from many countries to be able to represent them in the best way possible. It was an incredible experience to meet world Rotaract leaders and network so we can properly connect the world, help each other, and together make the world a better place with opportunities for everyone,” tells Salva.
Here is how he sums up the San Diego 2020 International Assembly experience.
Inclusion of Rotaractors is essential
The main topics of a variety of workshops were membership, public image, promotion and leadership, which also appear to be among the biggest challenges Rotarians are facing and could be, according to Salva, solved with contribution of skilled Rotaractors in strategic plannings, such as social media strategies, website development etc.
Rotaractors are young leaders who are able to organize all kinds of social projects, events and fundraising initiatives. However, it is not the complexity of activities, but that of the organization structure, that often stands as an obstacle between two worlds (p. e. having to explain Rotary to potential new members from scratch, while Rotex have great potential to become Rotaractors).
Furthermore, he goes on, “there is still so much to do until we achieve the credit deserved from our experienced partners for being purposeful, energetic professionals who could not only collaborate as equals in many Rotary projects, but also at a professional level. Rotaractors need Rotarians as much as Rotarians need Rotaractors.”
Keeping an eye on diversity
Rotary is an organization open to change, but its structure varies from country to country, as well as culture and approaches to youth. “I believe Rotary should be following the situation in each specific area closely. Our impression is that it is a whole, but there is proof that it has evolved differently in different areas. In some cases, these variations can be very significant,” warns Salva.
Rotary should make use of collaboration between MDIOs
Rotary had gathered leaders from MDIOS in North, Central and South America, Europe, Middle East, Asia and Oceania that are already collaborating. “This is something Rotary International should make use of,” he underlines. Unfortunately, he adds, they only got few opportunities to discuss the latest changes that will affect Rotaract.
MDIO leaders identified they are facing the same issues and agreed on helping each other spread the message about MDIOs’ potential to open opportunities among Rotaractors and Rotarians around the world, strengthen bonds, increase enthusiasm for the organization and enhance global access.
The youth needs to be heard
“When applying changes, such as setting or removing age limit, paying dues to Rotary International and others, it is imperative that Rotary take MDIO leaders into account. Rotaract committees should involve MDIO structures as well,” says Salva, expressing his wish that while Rotary is becoming more progressive, they give youth a voice and listen to them more.
“The world is changing very fast and it is up to us to show everybody the doors Rotary opens before it’s too late. If you are a Rotarian and you are reading this, please, listen to what Rotaractors have to say. Survival is not mandatory,” he concludes.
Keynote speeches and more photos from the International Assembly are available here.
Find out more about the new Rotaract policy by signing up for a Q&A with Ignacio Gonzalez, member of the Elevate Rotaract Task Force Committee, this Sunday at 9 PM CET on World of Rotaract.
Photo: Rotary International; Rotaract Mediterranean MDIO