By Dan Hall

Rotary International Conventions are great ways to learn from people from around the world.

For example, while speaking with a Rotary member from the Philippines, a retired police officer, he reported that divorce is not allowed in his country. Later another younger Philippine man also said divorce was illegal. So I asked him what he could do if his marriage was a disaster. His response was you are just out of luck.

German people are quite friendly and helpful…both Rotary delegates and locals. Hamburg is very happy to host a convention with 25,000 attendee’s spending money. Speaking of money, everything from food to lodging is quite costly as compared to Mid-America standards. A typical hamburger (no drink or fries included) costs 8.5 Euros (about $13.20 USD). Adults on bicycles are everywhere and not to be interfered with at least while walking on the sidewalk. The Germans at least have the good since to have red colored bike paths integrated into wide sidewalks. While in the USA we place our bike riders in harm’s way by painting bike paths in streets where bike riders challenge delivery trucks and teenage drivers. But then again why let common sense challenge the keen insights of MODOT bike path planners!

Another Rotarian from Austria, had good knowledge of European history of the last 100 years. She lamented that the under 30 generation were not learning history, or reading, as their time was largely consumed on electronic devices.

Rotary International conventions are very well organized and the presentations are most informative. General Sessions are held each of the four days of the convention. Each general session has a theme with today’s theme on ‘service to others.’ Polio eradication and programs serving youth were highlighted. On speaker stated that `our best investment isn’t money but is in the lives of our students.’ A young person, who had been in a very poor family of five kids, had been encouraged to join a high school Rotary Interact Club. While in the club she developed leadership skills and discovered herself. She learned that with ‘desire and effort’ she could finish high school. She then tested and was admitted to college. She became the first person in her family to ever achieve a college degree allowing her to gain meaningful employment.

The general session ended with a comment that ‘Rotary Interact Clubs’ is where Rotary changes high school kids lives. She concluded that for Rotary members, including herself, Rotary helps you live beyond yourself.

Dan Hall is a former Rotary District Governor who along with his wife, Phyllis, is participating in the 110th annual Rotary International Convention in Hamburg, Germany.