Sunday, October 5, 2008

District 1070 Assembly : SHOWTIME

Our weekend visit to Torquay on the southern shore of the British Isles became the high point of our GSE adventure. Host families took us on a 6 hour journey, southeast from the Midlands, to the Grand Hotel.

Nearly 1,000 Rotarians convened for the annual event. It was Gov. Iain Vernon’s blow-out celebration and the Rotarians provided a magnificent program in true British fashion. On Saturday, we had 2 morning plenary sessions, a House of Friendship, delicious meals and then, a magnificent banquet that evening. We befriended President DK Lee's personal representative to the conference, Mary Beth Growney Selene, a Yank from Minnesota. She is a past District Governor who shares my passion for mission work in Haiti.

A dance band energized everyone to “strut their stuff” on the dance floor. In another room, a Las Vegas-style gambling venue provided additional entertainment.

Many of our cherished host families came for the celebration. This gave us the opportunity to spend time with those who had immersed us in their genuine British hospitality.

Sunday was Showtime. Our presentation to the District Conference was the culmination our visit to 1070, the most important part of our adventure. I awoke at 4:45 AM. My apprehension made it impossible to sleep. I re-worked my portion of the Powerpoint, to fine tune it.

During the preceding 3 weeks, the team made a priority to amass a large volume of photos, with particular emphasis on funny photos. We have discovered that team member Eric has particular talent with humor.

We shortened our ordinary club presentations, in order to have time in the 30 minute slot, to tell about our GSE experiences and then to showcase our humor. Eric narrated the last portion, and brought the house down.

It had been apparent that many local Rotarians had reservations about the value of the GSE program. When we finished, the applause was loud and long. DG Iain Vernon took the opportunity to explain to the gathering that our presentation made clear how important GSE is to the Foundation and to the Rotary experience.

Afterward, we received high praise from many of the participants. One Brit told us it was the best GSE presentation he had heard in 20 years. I feel that we provided an excellent program for our hosts, and we demonstrated our appreciation for their unparalleled hospitality. When we closed, we offered gifts to Iain and his wife Jo, from the team and from our DG Anne Walker.

The remaining week will be a cake walk with this performance behind us. We will visit with the clubs from Wellingborough Hatton and Brackley. The team returns home next Saturday, Oct. 11. I will remain for 3 days of London sightseeing and return on Tuesday, Oct. 13.

Life in the U.K. is good. Our GSE experience has far exceeded our expectations.

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