Message by Christine Chappuis, President 2018-2019

lundi 23 juillet 2018

Welcome, dear Rotarian friends!

Although I am a Founding Member of the Rotary Club Genève International, I have a godmother: Chitra Barth-Radhakishun (Genève Lac). She is the most convincing person I know. One day, over lunch, she told me bluntly: “I have an agenda.” And I thought, “Oh dear.” She then asked me what I knew about Rotary. My answer was blunt too: “C’est un club de vieux bourges.” Mind you, “vieux,” not “vieilles,” because I was convinced that Rotary did not accept women. But Chitra proceeded with “Service above Self;” the momentum an organisation of 1.2 million people worldwide could bring; the success of the fight against polio; education, water and peace-making projects; and all those kinds of things which make our Earth a better place to live. She concluded with the idea that I might want to become part of a new mixed Club, with both men and women. Three years later (only!), here I am, proud to be part of this Club, full of dedicated and interesting people becoming friends – members becoming friends. With Matthew’s presidential trip to Istanbul still in mind, I know that this is the Club I want to belong to.

Now, let us talk about goals and the programme for the coming year. I will start with a word of thanks to all those who shared their ideas and wishes with me, in particular to Malika and Sibylle who helped me pull the strings of my thoughts together.

Born in 2015, the Rotary Club Genève International is still a young Club. We therefore need to strengthen the relationships among members, getting to know each other better and enjoying life together. Our members come from all over the world; this requires due care and special consideration. As to the programme, this means a certain organisation: on the first week of each month, we will hold a statutory meeting during which we will have professional presentations from club members; the second week will be devoted to conferences (speakers from outside the club, preferably from potential incoming members); on the third week, we will share Club members’ hobbies, passions, and projects; and the meeting on the fourth week will provide opportunities for the presentation of Rotarian actions (led by the club, national,  international, or actions to which the club participates, as well as updates on actions by other clubs). We will also introduce a “Rotarian minute” at each meeting, and regularly invite Rotaract and Interact members to share ideas and projects. As an overarching theme, I would like us to work on peace and prosperity through education, particularly of women (“teach a woman to fish, and the whole village eats for a lifetime”).

We have goals and the beginning of a programme, which are great, but above all, we need a team to make them come true. Your team will be composed, besides your president, of Laurent Darbois as President Elect and Vice-president; Matthew Kilgarriff as Past President; Thomas Seghezzi as Treasurer; Preeti Sinah as Secretary; Bénédicte Garcia and Valérie Savenier as Chief of Protocol (and her substitute); Nawal Aït-Hocine and Michèle Burger as Membership Committee Chair (and her substitute); Charles Chaussepied, Irène Martinetti, Claire Zendali and Hansjoerg Eberle, as the Rotary Foundation Committee; Vrana Pitois as Communication Committee Chair working together with Jason Munyan as Administration Committee Chair in charge of the speaker programme; and finally Juliana Knoll Negri and Ian Smith (in charge of Rotaract and Interact) for the Youth Engagement committee joined also by Barbora Bruant Gulejova.

I am sincerely grateful to them all for having accepted the invitation to belong to the 2018–2019 team. Some of the heavy positions will be shared in order to make things easier. We have tried to mix genders, as well as knowledgeable and new members. If any member would like to join a committee or has ideas for an action, please step forward. The more people who are engaged in our activities, the livelier our Club will be.

And last but not least: I need to address words of praise to our Past President. I have watched Matthew. I truly appreciated his class, his sense of humour, and the calm way with which he led our club – sometimes through stormy weather – without losing either his class or his composure. Thank you, Matthew, I will take my inspiration from you!

I wish us all a fruitful new Rotarian year.