has been a year of opportunities, on my 28th birthday in January I received
an email asking me to be a President Rep for Rotary Internationals first female
President, Jennifer Jones. I was surprised to see the offer appear in my email,
knowing full well the tradition of PDG’s being asked to be Presidents Reps,
this felt like a surreal opportunity. Jennifer and I first met delivering flood
aid after a cyclone in Fiji in 2018. While on our trip to Fiji for the District
9920 conference we met on the side of the road as we dropped off clothes, food,
water and emergency response kits.
year as president met many things to our Rotary organization, and to our young
female leaders like myself, it was a true moment of breaking the traditions of
Rotary and a chance for us to see ourselves in our RI President. It makes me
laugh as I see all the ads for the new Barbie movie, but watching the genuine
fanfare around Jennifer at conventions, I feel like there is an entire
generation of young Rotarians and Rotaractors who would rather have a Jen doll.
If you have ever heard Jennifer, speak, you will know she has an energy to her that ripples out over an audience, she holds us captivated and will walk us through a series of emotions as she tells a story. The first time I ever spoke as a Rotary Facilitator, Jennifer introduced me, that was a hard act to follow and I took my role as one of her representatives, just as seriously.
assignment came through, I was being asked to Represent Jennifer at the 5890
District conference being held in Fort Worth. So off I went, I was lucky enough
to have two incredible aid’s Alan and Stacey Brevard, who met my partner and I
at the airport and were with us through the rollercoaster of the next few days.
I must take my hat off to all the Presidents and President Rep’s who have gone
before me. Your ability to be on all day, after travelling, giving speech after
speech, answering the hard questions and taking that opportunity to build that
genuine connection with people is a lot, but I was so caught up in the moment with
all the incredible inspirational people I was meeting, it wouldn’t be till days
later after returning home that it would truly hit me.
Regardless of if I was being taken to the dance floor to line dance, being handed a new beer to try or asked to get on a Long Horn Bull in the middle of the street, I was there and creating some memories that I will never forget. Through out the five days, there were 4 days of events, three speeches, many meals and drinks, because 5890 know how to have fun. My first speech rolled around and I stood on stage and discussed Rotary, then on day two I came back with a much harder request to follow, I was asked to provide an inspirational address, and taking a leaf out of Jennifer's book, I simply told stories. I told my story and what Rotary and Rotaract mean to me, I told them what opportunities Rotary has given me, the friends I have made and the things it has made possible and the lives I have been able to see change because of the help of members just like the ones I was speaking to. Fun fact I also now know that I am incredibly demonstrative and emotive when I speak as I look a little crazy in every photo of me with a mic.
so many moments I will remember forever but one in particular stands out, as
the District was recognizing one of their members for his work with Disaster
Aid USA, they started playing a slide show and suddenly on those conference
room screens, in Texas USA over 6000miles from my home, suddenly there were
photos of my Rotary friends from back home in Fiji. It was a moment of utter
disbelief that this man on stage at this event had been in my home town helping
deal with providing aid after a number of cyclones in Fiji. I turned to DG Mindi
and said “Those are my friends, that’s my District, my home”. In that moment I
found a connection to this entire District, I never could have imagined… but
really its Rotary and even after nine years in the organization, it still
sneaks up on me, the way it truly unites us all under one organization who
believe that when we come together to create change, anything is possible, we
just have to imagine.
like to thank Jennifer for trusting me to represent her in this way, as well as
for all the other doors she has opened for members like myself. Watching Rotaractors
like myself be welcomed into these spaces goes a long way to seeing Rotarians at
a Club and District level, recognize the work our young leaders are doing. I
look forward to being able to continue to tell stories of this work, in every
space I can. Thank you to now (P)DG Mindi Snyder and all of 5890 for opening
your hearts to me and welcoming me into your District, for the beautiful memories
I have come home with and the friends I look forward to continuing to work
with. You have something special 5890 and I hope to come visit you all again