Hola and salaam fellow Rotarians! I am delighted to report on our 6 May 2015 meeting—a celebration of Chile.
President Jennifer Hara called us to order at 12:30 PM, leading members in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. She invited Dr. Sam Hancock to deliver words of inspiration. He recited a prayer that General Douglas MacArthur penned for his only son Arthur while stationed in Australia and serving as Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the Southwest Pacific Area. Acknowledging our visitors from COANIQUEM (Corporación de Ayuda al Niño Quemado, or Chilean Burnt Children Assistance Corporation), Dr. Sam adapted passages of the prayer accordingly:
“…Here let us learn to stand up in the storm; here let us learn compassion for those who are at risk for no fault of their own. Let us welcome our Rotarian friends and colleagues from Latin America who have created Burn Units who are dedicating their resources of time, talents and treasure with hearts that are clear, and whose goals are high to help those burned children and their families; Rotarians who are creating a better world while mastering themselves; ones who are reaching into the future for those who face great pain, disfigurement and loss, while giving them a different future of hope, joy and opportunities.”
Sargent-at-Arms Buz Gorman saluted Rotarians celebrating birthdays this week—May Gwinn and Max Salas both on 3 May. Joining our club in 2007 with Clara Montanez’s sponsorship, May’s classification is international trade. Max was a member of Tennessee’s Nashville Rotary Club before joining us in 1996 with Ann Milne’s sponsorship; his classification is telecommunications-corporate development.
At President Jennifer’s request, I began the introduction of guests and Rotarians from other clubs joining us for lunch, and then Clara Montanez announced those visitors associated with COANIQUEM and our celebration of “Chile Day.”
  • Prince Adebanjo Adejuwon, CEO of McPeterson Consulting LLC, invited by David Klaus;
  • Dr. Emile Badibango, a physician visiting from the Dupont Circle Rotary Club;
  • Chuck Banks, disaster recovery specialist and formerly a member of our club;
  • Max Bartoli, CEO of Maxam Productions, invited by his father Oscar Bartoli;
  • Dr. Yan Beal with B & H World, invited by Dr. Sam Hancock;
  • Taras Berezovets, bringing us a banner from Ukraine’s Kiev Rotary E-Club;
  • Jackson Carnes, invited by President Jennifer;
  • Joan Coalter, President of Mobile Sciences Consortium, invited by Dr. Sam Hancock;
  • Blaike E.B. Snyder Dunbar, Vice President of TD Wealth’s Private Client Group, invited by Lisa McCurdy;
  • Wanda Henderson, owner of Wanda’s on 7th;
  • Jeremy King, visiting from Alabama’s Central Baldwin Sunset Rotary Club;
  • Marcus Kriwat, an exchange student visiting from Denmark’s Faaborg Rotary Club;
  • Gib Leonard, Founding Director of the Buy A Brick Foundation, invited by Dr. Sam Hancock;
  • Kraig Peel, Financial Advisor at Morgan Stanley, invited by Andrew Clark; and
  • Steven Wilson, visiting from Canada’s Saskatoon Rotary Club.
Representing COANIQUEM’s good works and associated with our “Chile Day” celebration were numerous additional visitors:
  • Honored guests from the Washington, DC areaSecretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) José Miguel Insulza; Ambassador Alfonso Quiñonez, Secretary for External Relations at the OAS; Chile’s Ambassador to the OAS Juan Pablo Lira; and Past District Governor Rich Carson.
  • Members of COANIQUEM’s Board of Directors and/or the Rotary Club of Santiago de ChileDr. Jorge Rojas, Founder and President of COANIQUEM and his wife, Dr. Maria Ester Rojas; Miroslav and Teresa Bakovic; Angelica Campos and Juan Enrique Nestler; Pablo Cruz; Sergio, Teresa and Catalina Dominguez; Juan Enrique, Jacqueline and Constanza Gebauer; Mario and Maria Luisa Rojas; Christian and Consuelo Storaker; Alfredo and Ines Valdez; Luis Guillermo and Senora Vasquez; and Carmen Velasco.
  • Members of COANIQUEM’s Board of Directors and of the Rotary Club of Almeda, CaliforniaKathy and Pat Coyle; Bo Carvacho; and Carolyn Schuetz and her husband Lloyd Baysdorfer.
After all guests and visiting Rotarians were introduced, members heard briefly from Ambassador Alfonso Quiñonez, speaking on behalf of OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza. Ambassador Quiñonez apologized that Mr. Insulza could not be with us due to his annual meeting with auditors—although the Secretary General surprised everyone a bit later by rushing over to our lunch gathering after his meeting ended. The son of a Rotarian mother in Guatemala, Mr. Quiñonez thanked our club as well as the Santiago and Almeda clubs for supporting COANIQUEM’s work throughout Latin America. Lauding Dr. Jorge Rojas’ efforts to treat and rehabilitate children suffering from burn wounds, Mr. Quiñonez presented COANIQUEM’s founder with a pin from the OAS.
Ambassador Juan Gabriel Valdés—Chile and the United States, Partners in “Free Association”
Mark Wilson introduced our guest speaker Dr. Juan Gabriel Valdés, Chile’s Ambassador to the United States and a gentleman of many talents whose family has been dedicated to public service for generations. Declaring that he was “honored” to be with COANIQUEM founder Dr. Jorge Rojas, the organization’s board members and Rotarians from our and other clubs, Ambassador Valdés enthusiastically described the nature of the relationship between Chile and the United States. Not a matter of “geographic or economic imperative,” this relationship is a partnership rooted in the “common values and institutions” of democracy and is thus a “free association,” the Ambassador insisted.
Dr. Valdés remarked that he was “impressed” by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s consultations with Chilean officials in Santiago last year; their wide-ranging discussions covered human rights promotion in Central America, climate change and cooperation on energy development and trade among other issues. While looking forward to U.S.-Chilean efforts to advance the Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement, the Ambassador highlighted three areas of priority in bilateral relations. First, Santiago and Washington are expanding their collaboration in the development and distribution of renewable energy resources. Second, Chile is seeking to increase the number of undergraduate and graduate students attending US universities as consistent with President Obama’s initiative “100,000 Strong in the Americas.” This initiative’s goal is to bring 100,000 Latin American students to the United States and to send 100,000 US students to Latin American institutions of higher education.
Third and perhaps most interestingly, Dr. Valdés elaborated on Chile-US collaboration at the level of individual regions and states. For example, Chile has pursued agricultural cooperation with the state of California. Bringing Chilean students to the University of California-Davis to learn new growing techniques has been a boon to both parties and has ultimately enabled Chile to “produce the best wines in the world.” Similarly, Chile is working with Massachusetts and specifically with MIT on energy research. The Ambassador anticipated further collaboration of this kind. Officials from Chile and Washington State will confer this year on port amelioration and products protection, and Chileans from their country’s northern regions will work with Arizonans on much needed water preservation.
Underscoring that “democracy is part of Chile’s identity,” Dr. Valdés concluded that his country’s relations with the United States are “not a matter of protocol,” but rather have been built on “shared ideals” among “a network of people who trust each other to implement projects together.” The Ambassador’s remarks found a receptive audience as Rotarians engaged him in questions about Chile’s economy and educational reforms.
Adjourned Until Next Week
As President Jennifer awarded our “Trees for the Capital” certificate to Ambassador Juan Gabriel Valdés, she noticed OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza’s arrival and gave him the floor. Mr. Insulza offered regrets for arriving late, explaining that he was stuck in a meeting with auditors but that he did not want to miss greeting Rotarians and COANIQEM’s board members even if only for a few minutes. The Secretary General thanked Dr. Rojas for improving the lives of those children throughout Latin America affected by burns mostly due to household accidents. He also recognized Rotarians for their commitment to social action and positive involvement in their communities and around the world.
Before ending our meeting, President Jennifer reminded members that the District Conference will be in Frederick, Maryland from Friday, 8 May to Saturday the 9th. (Please note that this event has already taken place.) She noted as well that John Jackson needs volunteers for the Grate Patrol on Friday evening, 15 May.
Rotarians, meanwhile, waited to learn who bought the lucky raffle ticket from Heather Jaffan. When the winning numbers were announced, Chris Teras took home the small pot of $61, as Heather declared, “I told you so. I knew you’d win!” Yet Chris did not draw the ace of spades from our deck of cards; so the large pot of $726 will increase again.
We owe our gratitude to Johnny Allem, Balraj Gupta and Stu Shalloway for welcoming visitors at the Hospitality Table.
On 13 May, we will hear from guest speaker Dr. Sachiko Kuno presenting “A Japanese Woman’s Journey as Entrepreneurin honor of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month.
President Jennifer adjourned the meeting at 1:30 PM … And then I put down my pen—until next week!