In high school, I considered being a Rotary exchange student, but decided that I would be an American Field Service exchange student, as my grandfather had been one of the ambulance drivers on the fields of France during World War I, and they had created a school program to create understanding to prevent a second. Being an idealist in high school, I hoped to be able to help prevent a third.
I was still interested in Rotary and, following college, applied and became the Rotary Scholar Alternate for the State of Ohio. I was never called, and went to Japan on my own, returning to New York a year later to work on Wall Street with Daiwa Bank. I was inducted as a Rotary member years later by the Metro New York chapter, the young and dynamic club in Manhattan, and today attend meetings around the world.
Rotarians tend to be some of the most influential members of their communities. Getting to know them in Colombo, Port-au-Prince, Jakarta, and Lomé, not to mention New York has been a privilege for me and advantageous to OI. Rotarians also tend to be both global-minded and service-oriented individuals, as Rotary’s motto would suggest: “Service Above Self.”
I think what I cherish most about Rotary is its Four-Way Test, translated since 1932 into more than 100 languages: Of the things we think, say or do, Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
Leading my own international organization I realize not all decisions can be popular, and I have made a few decisions for the good of the organization that did not build better personal friendships. But I am sure my organization has been run in a fashion far more humane than many corporations because I follow the Rotarian Credo. For example, few below-par employees being fired feel it is fair or that goodwill has been built, but overall it is a worthy act indeed.
Rotary was the world’s first service club organization, and today there are 32,000 Rotary clubs around the globe.