Salaam fellow Rotarians! I am delighted to report the details of our 8 October gathering, jam-packed with guests and featuring remarks by eminent speakers.

Immediate Past President (P2) Shaun English led our meeting in President Jennifer Hara’s absence for business travel. He called us to order shortly before 12:30 PM in anticipation of a busy meeting. After leading members in the Pledge of Allegiance, P2 Shaun invited Dan Mullin to offer words of inspiration from Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the thing that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

 

I then recognized what seemed like a record number of guests and Rotarians from other clubs. Guests included:

  • Mary Cox Garner, invited by Doris Margolis;
  • Ann Goodman;
  • Diego Grajales accompanying his father Guillermo;
  • Monique Granada and Dr. Laura Khor, counterterrorism expert and guest speaker last month, both invited by Clara Montanez;
  • Christine Hall, law librarian at the firm of Arnold & Porter;
  • Georgia Harley, justice reform advisor with the World Bank;
  • Jim Lanning, Director of Acquisitions & Logistics, and Igor Samac, Senior Program Officer, both with International Relief and Development, invited by Andy Koval;
  • Paddy Link, Immediate Past Secretary Tim Hurd’s wife;
  • Rotaractor Michael Spencer, Senior Analyst at the U.S. Department of Transportation;
  • Oresta Starak from the Embassy of Ukraine, Natalie Korytnyk’s guest;
  • Taylor Strange, Director of Programs at the Center for Nonprofit Advancement, Glen O’Gilvie’s guest; and
  • Professor Arnold Zeitlin, guest of Doris Margolis.

The room was also full of Rotarians from various corners of the world:

  • Wolfgang Bertelsmeier visiting from the Rotary Club of Bangkok, Thailand to emphasize our Capitol City Club partnership;
  • Bret Brintzenhofe who works in public affairs and belongs to the New York Rotary Club;
  • Giancarlo Civalleri, Rotary Global Grants Scholar at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, originally from the Rotary Club of Saluzzo, Italy;
  • Jose Estrada bringing us a banner from Uruguay’s Maldonado Rotary Club;
  • Jan van Eyndhoven, Deputy Director of the Bangkok Rotary Club's International Committee, and wife Frederika, visiting to discuss collaboration within our Capitol City relationship;
  • Edwin Futa, formerly Rotary International General Secretary (1998-2011), presently Dean of the Rotary International Global Representative Network liaising with the United Nations and member of Hawaii’s Honolulu Rotary Club;
  • Kimberly Hall who works in nonprofit management and belongs to the Rotary Club of West Chester, Pennsylvania;
  • Carolyn Jones visiting from the Rotary Club of Anchorage East, Alaska, one of 10 Rotarian women honored at the White House;
  • Peter Kyle, Immediate Past Governor of District 7620, and wife Margaret;
  • Penny Leckie, an accountant from the Rotary Club of South Calgary, Canada;
  • Gary Roseman from the Capitol Hill Rotary Club; and
  • Alessia Thiebaud, Rotary Global Grants Scholar at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, originally from Italy’s Rotary Club of North Bologna.

Last but not least among our visitors was Gary C.K. Huang, President of Rotary International, formally introduced later during our meeting.

P2 Shaun asked Sargent-at-Arms Buz Gorman to congratulate Rotarians celebrating birthdays this week:

  • Gladys Antezana on 6 October – Joining our club in 2006, sponsored by Mary Ann Blackwell, the lovely Gladys’ classification is development-construction.
  • William Busker on 7 October – A member of our club since 2013, sponsored by Dr. Sam Hancock, Bill is an attorney.
  • Russell George on 8 October – Sponsored by Doris Margolis when he joined our club in 2003, Russell’s classification is government service-inspector general.

Back at the microphone, P2 Shaun announced two upcoming activities: Movie Night is on Thursday, 9 October at the Landmark Bethesda Row Cinema on 7235 Woodmont Avenue. Please meet Ed O’Brien and May Gwinn at 6:30 PM in the theater to buy tickets for The Two Faces of January showing at 7:20. (Please note that this activity has taken place.) Walter Reed Bingo will be on Thursday, 16 October with set-up at 5:30 PM and games at 6:00 PM. Pre-registration is required by 4:00 PM on 13 October with Shelly Williams or on the club’s website. (Please note that this deadline has passed.)

After these announcements, P2 Shaun awarded Tyisha Cottman her Red Badge. Her sponsor is Lisa McCurdy. Welcome to the club, Tyisha!

Rotarians Hear from Three Distinguished Speakers

This week, besides our featured guest, Ambassador Olexander Motsyk, we were pleasantly surprised to receive the Anchorage East Rotary Club’s Carolyn Jones and Rotary International President Gary C.K. Huang.

  • Carolyn Jones—Embracing Russia’s Children

Ms. Jones joined the Anchorage East Club in 1987, emerging as a leader in her district and, in 2005, becoming the first woman Trustee of the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. As she explained, the most exciting aspect of her Rotarian experience has been the chance to serve others. Traveling to Russia more than 30 times, Ms. Jones embraced the country’s orphaned children and those with developmental challenges. She launched the “Children of Russia” program, teaching preschool herself and arranging American musicians’ performances at hospitals, orphanages and schools. Honored at the White House earlier in the day, Ms. Jones reminded us to “have fun and be passionate” about service “because great things can happen!”

  • Gary C.K. Huang—Inspiring Us to Light Up Rotary

P2 Larry Margolis formally welcomed Rotary International President Gary Huang and his wife Corinna. A Taipei Rotary Club member, Mr. Huang’s wit and wisdom will well serve his presidential goal of expanding membership, especially among women and youths. Comparing Rotary clubs to enterprises seeking customers, he urged us to “Do what you do best, and do your best!” This approach makes clubs adept at service and draws members. He counseled us to serve with our “hands, heads and hearts”: Extend a “helping hand,” use your head “to help in the right places” and commit your heart to make the help “sincere.”

This advice reflects Mr. Huang’s theme for 2014-15—“Light up Rotary,” inspired by Confucius. Calling the Chinese philosopher “the first Rotarian before Rotary existed,” he cited Confucius: “It is better to light a single candle, than to sit and curse the darkness.” With so many people needing help, the RI President believes that Rotarians can illuminate solutions to problems worldwide.

Mr. Huang thanked Clara Montanez profusely for coordinating his DC trip, presenting her with a stunning silk red scarf crafted by a talented designer, his wife Corinna.

  • Ambassador Olexander Motsyk—Showing Diplomatic Courage Under Fire

Natalie Korytnyk eloquently introduced our featured guest speaker Olexander Motsyk, Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United States, who began by recognizing Rotary’s service around the world and in his country. He praised Rotary for “23 years of humanitarian work since Ukraine’s independence”—including the vaccination of some 2 million children against polio during 1996-97—and noted that his country is home to 49 clubs.

In a measured tone, Ambassador Motsyk elaborated on the challenge to Ukraine’s territorial and political integrity during the last year, underscoring the significance of Russia’s illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula and continued effort to foment domestic tensions in his country. Prompted by Ukrainians’ democratic and pro-Europe aspirations, Moscow’s actions violate the United Nations Charter and the 1994 Budapest Agreement which stipulated that Ukraine would give up its nuclear arsenal—then the world’s third largest—in exchange for defense assurances by the UN Security Council’s five permanent members (the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China).

Though Ukraine seems to be on its own in fighting against Russia, Ambassador Motsyk repeatedly thanked the United States for supporting his country’s quest for democracy and leading the economic sanctions against Russia. He also stressed Ukraine’s need for defensive weapons to thwart Russian advances, but he diplomatically sidestepped a question about the Obama Administration’s response to Kyiv’s requests for military aide.

Ambassador Motsyk reflected his country’s courage under fire, explaining its determination under the leadership of President Petro Poroshenko, elected earlier this year, to implement democratic reforms. Poroshenko’s domestic agenda encompasses an anti-corruption plan, stabilization of the macro economy as well as modifications to the judicial, defense and security sectors—all in an effort to ensure “the government’s accountability to the citizenry,” to bring Ukraine up to “international democratic standards” and to return the country “to its European roots.” The Ambassador closed by reiterating that Ukrainians will “never accept Vladimir Putin’s aggression and annexation of Crimea” and emphasizing that nothing short of the entire post-World War II international order is at stake if Russia’s actions are allowed to stand.

Rotarians clearly appreciated Ambassador Motsyk’s remarks, giving him a standing ovation. This meeting may have set a record for standing ovations because White House Honoree Carolyn Jones and RI President Gary Huang also had Rotarians on their feet. Three distinguished speakers, each embodying the ethos of “service above self,” three standing ovations!

Adjourned Until Next Week

P2 Shaun presented our “Trees for the Capital” certificate to Ambassador Olexander Motsyk. Smiling broadly, the Ambassador said, “I must call my friends in Kyiv. They will be jealous that a tree is planted for me!”

Meanwhile, Rotarians waited to hear who purchased the lucky raffle ticket from Heather Jaffan. Winning the $42 small pot was guest Ann Goodman. The elusive large pot of $1,074 will keep growing.

Thank you to Greeter Steve Liston and to Balraj Gupta and Stu Shalloway for staffing the Hospitality Table.

On 15 October, Rear Admiral Markham Rich, Commandant of Naval District Washington, will address our club.

P2 Shaun adjourned the meeting at 1:30 PM … And then I put down my pen—until next week!