New and old leaders from Utah District 5420 gather to inspire, educate, and learn to better connect the world
The 2019 Rotary President-Elect Training Seminar (PETS) and Assembly for Utah District 5420, was held February 15th and 16th at Salt Lake Community College. There, past, present, and future Rotary and Rotaract leaders convened to hear presentations from District Governor Scott Leckman, District Governor-Elect John Hanrahan, District Leader Dean Jackson, and participate in break-out sessions and group discussions lead by various Rotary and Rotaract leaders. (See: agenda at: http://utahrotary.blogspot.com/2019/01/2019-district-president-elect-training.html)
As the Rotaract Handbook explains: Rotaract is a service club for young people ages 18 to 30 and are dedicated to finding innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges while developing leadership skills and making friends from around the world. Rotary clubs both sponsor and play the primary role in guiding, mentoring and supporting Rotaract clubs. Rotaract connects young leaders with Rotary’s worldwide family, giving them the chance to expand their professional networks and foster international understanding. Rotaract at Utah Valley University is actively supported by members of Orem Rotary. Kyle Warren, President-elect of UVU Rotaract and I, as Rotaractor participated at the seminar along with several members of the Orem Rotary under the leadership of the Orem Rotary President-elect, Clark Merkley.
The first day of the conference began with the Pledge of Allegiance, 4-Way test, Invocation, as well as a welcome and opening comments were delivered by District Trainer Dean Jackson, after which he introduced the first speaker, District Governor Scott Leckman. As the outgoing District Governor, Scott Leckman shared how he first became a member of Rotary International and how he remembered the feelings of excitement and nervousness he experienced sitting in his first PETS conference.
Next, Orem President-Elect Clark Merkley took the stage to address the conference attendees and invited the members of Rotary International to participate in the upcoming United Nations Civil Society Conference that will be held in Salt Lake City on August 26-28, 2019. Detailing the great opportunity to highlight activities of Rotary International as the NGO in general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations since 1993.
Hannah Bieker addresses conference attendees
In relation to his statement, President-Elect Clark Merkley invited me on stage, to address the conference regarding my upcoming presentation at the 63rd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in March 18-20, 2019. I, along with a dozen of my fellow members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF) a coalition of student clubs at UVU, will travel to New York and participate in the UN event. Our group’s primary focus will be to bring global attention to women and girls in mountain communities, who are among the poorest and most vulnerable to climate, economic, and other challenges. Whereas my role at the UN will be to demonstrate how through service oriented learning we can implement through Rotaract the UN sustainable development goals, such as ensuring everyone has access to clean water, Polio eradication, and the empowerment of women in the developing world. I informed the audience that I will be the first to represent Rotaract at the United Nations and my objective will be to highlight the successes of Utah Rotaracts, their past service projects, what is currently being worked on, and our plans for the future. As part of UVU’s model of Student Engaged Learning, it has been the responsibility of myself and my peers of arranging logistics, approach embassies, draft the official language, and most crucially, raise the funds necessary to attend the UN conference. My words could not express just how thankful I am to the Orem Rotary Club and President-Elect Clark Merkley, not only for introducing me to the conference but for their incredible generosity in donating $500 thus allowing me the opportunity to travel to New York and affording me the privilege of representing Rotaract at such a prestigious level as the United Nations.
The second day of the conference, held on Saturday February 16, 2019 contained a full day of presentations and discussions among attendees. After being provided a light breakfast, the conference began with the Pledge of Allegiance, recitement of the 4-Way test, and invocation, District Trainer Dean Jackson provided a welcome and his opening comments. Soon after, District Governor Nominee (DGN) Linda Sappington addressed the conference. I found her to be the most inspirational as she lead the audience through her story of joining Rotary International and her life altering experiences that followed. DGN Linda Sappington was first approached in 1993 by a friend who encouraged her to join their local Rotary Club in St. George, Utah. Trusting the judgement of her friend, Linda joined thus becoming that club’s first female member. Unbeknownst to her at that time, her acceptance into the club made four male members leave simply because they did not want a woman to be apart of their organization. It is hard to imagine something like that happening in today’s time. But Linda explained that women joining Rotary back then was not an easy thing. It took a United States Supreme Court ruling to allow women into the club. But Linda proved herself to the club through her dedication to service and passion for helping others. She even shared of an experience between herself and a male member who admitted to being one of the men who opposed her joining, but expressed how he was initially wrong about her and was glad she was a part of their organization. This impacted me because I will be the first to represent Rotaract in the United Nations. In March 2019, I will travel to New York and present to the UN Commission on the Status of Women and demonstrate how through service oriented learning we can implement through Rotaract the UN sustainable development goals, such as ensuring everyone has clean water, polio eradication, and the empowerment of women in the developing world.
During the first break-out session of the day, Rotary and Rotaract Clubs formed groups to discuss ways in which Rotary International can obtain and maintain membership. This break-out session was lead by Chief of Staff for District Governor-Elect John Hanrahan. This was a great opportunity for the newest and oldest members of Rotary and Rotaract to collaborate as to which recrutement techniques resonate best with each generation. The exercise embodied this year’s Presidential Theme: Rotary Connects the World. Through connecting the experiences and views of Rotaractors and Rotarians through each generation.
Rotaractors and Rotarians share their recruitment ideas
Overall, my experience at the 2019 Rotary President-Elect Training Seminar and Assembly was better than I could have ever imagined. It was an incredible way to spend my weekend learning from past, current, and future leaders and service projects. I am honored to of have had the opportunity to attend this event, grateful to the people who make organizations like this possible, and thankful of the great friendships I made. I look forward to the next opportunity I have to learn from leaders like these who all share the passion of service to others.
Hannah Bieker, a member of the Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of student clubs at UVU as well as UVU Rotaract club