"Reach Within to Embrace Humanity" is 2011-12 RI theme

RI President-elect Kalyan Banerjee will ask Rotarians to Reach Within to Embrace Humanity during the 2011-12 Rotary year.

Banerjee unveiled the RI theme during the opening plenary session of the 2011 International Assembly, a training event for incoming district governors.

He urged participants to harness their inner resolve and strength to achieve success in Rotary.

"In order to achieve anything in this world, a person has to use all the resources he can draw on. And the only place to start is with ourselves and within ourselves," Banerjee said.

Once Rotarians find their inner strength, he continued, they can accomplish great things in their communities and around the world.

"Discover yourself, develop the strengths within you, and then unhesitatingly, unflinchingly, go forth and encircle the world, to embrace humanity," he said.

Banerjee emphasized the family as a starting point in serving others. "The communities we live in are not built of individual people but of families -- families living in homes together, sharing their lives and their resources and their common destinies. Good families lead to good neighborhoods, and good neighborhoods build good communities."

Rotarians can focus on projects that support families, such as those that provide safe housing or improve maternal and child health, he said.

Continuity in Rotary’s work, including polio eradication, is also important, Banerjee said. "There are so many things we are indeed good at: working for clean, safe water; spreading literacy; working in so many ways with the New Generations, our youth, in our newest Avenue of Service and assisting them to become the leaders of tomorrow."

Citing Mahatma Gandhi’s call to "be the change you wish to see in the world," Banerjee said Rotarians should also focus on change.

"If we wish for peace, we start by living in peace ourselves, in our homes and in our communities," he explained. "If we wish environmental degradation to stop, if we wish to reduce child mortality or to prevent hunger, we must be the instrument of that change -- and recognize that it must start within us, with each of us."

The theme inspired the roomful of Rotary leaders, including Jogesh Gambhir, governor-elect of District 3250 (India).

“It is a touching theme, but also very purposeful and meaningful,” said Gambhir. “I’m sure we can inspire the clubs into action to solve the problems in the community. That’s the ultimate goal of Rotary.”

“There are no words for me to describe how remarkable it was. To me, he was right on and weaved everything together beautifully," said Jane Millar, governor-elect of District 6290 (parts of Ontario, Canada, and Michigan, USA). "I am so thrilled to be a district governor when this man is president.

“I loved the focus on family, continuity, and change," she added. "Family is the center of everything, and not just our immediate family. It’s also about the family of Rotary and the world as one big family."