Our difference and diversity are our strengths: Jennifer Jones

RIPN Jennifer Jones (R) in conversation with PDG Sylvia Whitlock from RC Duarte, California, US.
RIPN Jennifer Jones (R) in conversation with PDG Sylvia Whitlock from RC Duarte, California, US.

Each of us is unique and that’s what makes us special. And in Rotary, we know that our differences really are our strengths. It’s our diverse ­perspective that helps us to tackle the world’s most pressing challenges,” said RI President Nominee Jennifer Jones, addressing the Taipei convention.

In Rotary people with diverse ­backgrounds were “drawn to each other, because we know the power of our service. We’ve all felt it. We know the mysterious, powerful force that service creates, and which ends up enriching our souls and creating greatness.”

Earlier a video clip was played out of a conversation between Jones and PDG Sylvia Whitlock, a trailblazer in making possible women’s entry into Rotary. In that conversation Sylvia explained to the RIPN, the whole drama behind the court case to bar women’s entry into Rotary, with the US Supreme Court finally ruling that women cannot be kept out from Rotary.

RI President Holger Knaack announced the setting up of a Sylvia Whitlock Leadership Award to honour any Rotarian or anyone who had advanced women’s membership in Rotary.

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Addressing the virtual convention and stressing the importance of the power of team work, Jones said that working together, Rotarians would accomplish great things. As civil rights activist Martin Luther King had said, “‘everyone has the power for greatness.’ Not for fame, but for greatness. Because greatness is determined by service.”

By working together Rotarians would not only achieve great things but also “leave for future generations an organisation that reflects the world they live in and that carries forth timeless values we treasure so dearly. Imagine a world that’s becoming more aligned with the values of Rotary.”

One fallout of the Covid pandemic was the creation of “a season of outreach in Rotary. We’ve had to find new ways to connect, new ways to hold our hands and expand our arms a little wider.” Not only had the clubs been strengthened more, but because of  technology, “we also see a Rotary that includes people we would’ve never come into contact with in other times — and who we can’t wait to meet face-to-face” whenever that becomes possible.

Even as its reach had widened, Rotary had found “a broader, more diverse perspective”, reaching out to people, of every gender, age, nationality, language, belief, or economic status. “Now we are diversifying our friendships like never before,” Jones added.

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