Lighting up China with hope and dreams

By Tara Strunk, Rotary Club of Shanghai

We all become Rotarians for a reason. Each of us has different reasons, but we all have a reason.

Rotary President Gary C.K. Huang inspired more than 130 attendees at the Rotary China Conference held in Shanghai recently with his experiences, his passion for growing Rotary (especially in China), and his family’s commitment and involvement in Rotary.

During the two-day conference, President Gary shared with us his theme for 2014-15, Light Up Rotary. This theme is particularly meaningful to Rotarians in China as many of us studiedConfucius in school. The president quoted Confucius, “It is better to light a single candle, than to sit and curse the darkness.”

President Gary’s speech was the boost our clubs in China needed. After the event, old and new members alike were galvanized to go back to their clubs armed with energy and new ideas. People walked up to me and shared their excitement. For days following the event, Rotarians and friends of Rotary posted photos of the event and pictures of themselves with President Gary and quoted Confucius on Facebook and WeChat.

I was impressed by the event for several reasons. I not only enjoyed the speeches by internationally renowned speakers such as John Liu, but I was also impressed with Rotaract’s strategy going forward and with the amazing progress of our newest club, Chengdu.

During the breaks and dinners, it was a wonderful opportunity to talk with other Rotarians and to learn about the reasons they became part of the Rotary family. We Rotarians in China probably feel stronger about our reasons and connections to Rotary because we are still not considered an authorized organization in China. We operate with the full knowledge of the government, but we still aren’t a registered organization that can have a bank account or issue invoices, and we cannot have Chinese nationals as members. Not being a legal and authorized entity in China can be very challenging for a non-profit.

President Gary’s speech and the district conference invigorated us to work towards his goal of creating 15 new clubs in China by July 2015. Each of us at the conference is holding up our candles. We are committed to connecting and working with local communities to improve lives while building more Rotary clubs in China.