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Published: January 25th 2006
Why I Am A Rotarian
PDG Kent Converse tours a Pagoda in Vietnam
Traveling Vietnam, a non-Rotary country makes me acutely aware just why I am a Rotarian and why I want to spread Rotary, the story of Rotary and what it stands for.
Many Americans still think as Vietnam as a war. Indeed we should not forget our war experience here. We should study are past so we can avoid making the same mistakes over and over.
Rotary had a presence here before 1975. Although it did some humanitarian things it was not strong enough to be a factor in peace. Achieving our mission statement of promoting world peace and understanding will take more effort than just doing a few projects. To be a factor in peace we would have to be large enough as an organization to foster human contact such as:
Youth Exchange: Trang Nguyen was the first Rotary Exchange Student from Vietnam to the US and that didn't happen until 1999. I understand there has been a trickle since then. To be effective in peace we would have needed thousands of Exchanges. I believe there would have never been a war if there had been a Trang in every village in Vietnam. The host families would not have let it happen.
Vietnam needs Rotary business ethics:
Rick Rolls, a Vietnam Veteran and Executive Vice President of Hail Trailers does business all over the world. In a speech to the Kinsley Rotary Club he gave a fascinating account on what a good deal is to a fortune 500 company. Essentially it is a good deal if it is a good deal for both parties. This is Rotary ethics and the four-way-test. Not only Vietnamese businesses need the four-way-test but foreign companys doing business in Vietnam need the four-way-test.
Finally, Rotary brings people together. In doing projects here for Rotary or working with organizations like Libraries of Vietnam Project which adherers to the Rotary ethics, we bring people together. We constantly hear: "We can't get that approved." "They won't cooperate." When we set down with both parties involved, they are surprised how quick their differences go away.
I am a Rotarian because I want a better world. Our small presence here hopefully will grow large and make a difference in promoting peace and world understanding.
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