ATLANTA - Rotarians from Florida, Georgia and the Caribbean gathered at the Renaissance Concourse on Saturday to explore the role of Rotary in the world peace process.The event was given in honor of Rotary International President Sakuji Tanaka’s theme, Peace through Service.
Keynote speakers presented information that gave the more than 260 attending Rotarians a broader view of what peace means to people from different cultures and the need for other organizations to partner with Rotary. Rotary International Director Anne L. Matthews started the day off by welcoming the Rotarians and asking them to start questioning their own definition of peace.
“Rotarians foster peace and goodwill in pockets all around the world, we emphasize peace through service, but how many times do you actually stop and think what peace means to you,” Matthews asked. “Peace means different things to different people in different cultures.”
The day was designed to have individuals question themselves and examine how they, along with the members in their own Rotary clubs, could help to make a difference.
“Make a commitment to foster peace in your community and in the service projects that your club take on,” Matthews said.
Guest speakers for the event included individuals from different parts of the world and from different areas of expertise.
Dr. Abidemi Fasanmi, a Hubert Humphrey Fellow at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, explained that peace in Nigeria is an expanded definition of freedom.
“Freedom from poverty, freedom in education, in women and child health rights, freedom is good shelter, clean water, food security, and gender equality,” Fasanmi said. “Freedom is also respect for all persons, of all religions, races, gender and status.”
Other speakers included Jay Hakes, whose presentation was entitled, “Energy Sources and Peace,” New Zealand native Peter Kyle, who spoke on how the World Bank and Rotary could be peace partners, Larry Kemp, a former member of a British Royal Air Force Fighter Squadron and Peter C. White, founder and president of the Southern Center for International Studies. The speakers also took part in small group discussions that gave Rotarians an opportunity to ask further questions of them.
LaGrange Rotarian Kathy Howard thought that the day was organized well and enjoyed having the opportunity to hear from individuals from such varied backgrounds.
“Events like these are good because they give you a chance to meet and talk with people who you wouldn’t normally have an opportunity to be with,” Howard said. “I especially enjoyed seeing all of the paper cranes that were used for the table decorations and having our own Troup High School Interact Club being recognized for their part in making them, that was very nice.”
The all-day symposium was was co-chaired by Past District 6900 Governor Margie Kersey and Past District 6930 Governor Betsy Owen.