Wheels beyond Wheels

Rotary's Inter Country Committees - celebrating two charter events

David Pope, Abingdon Rotary, 4th May 2022

Newer or older?

Do you remember the lapel pin you received on your shoulder when you joined Rotary?  I suppose its shape defines whether you are a newer or older member of our organisation. More recent pins are rectangular; earlier examples, including the one I received in 1997, are circular. Whatever the shape, the defining characteristic of this beautiful little badge of belonging must be the Rotary wheel, endlessly encircling all we are, yet pointing, on its outer rim, in so many different directions. Its 26 ridges seem to make so many suggestions as to what we could do, and where we might go to do it. 

Words or shapes?

Or maybe you prefer words to shapes? I’ve always been fascinated by the second word on my circular Rotary pin: “International”. Where might my membership of Rotary take me? I wondered excitedly, all those years ago. The spinning Rotary wheel did not disappoint: from my first faltering steps as a new Rotarian into the great beyond of other local Club meetings, (some of them sing the Grace!) via dropping into Rotary Clubs on cruise ships (wishing my new best friends “Rotary and Peace the World Over” armed with a fluorescent exotic cocktail), on holidays learning how local Rotarians are improving tourism facilities in Peru and France, forging a partnership between my Club and one in Kenya to do up a primary school, inoculating hundreds of under 5s against polio in Old Delhi slums, attending several International Conventions, surviving the week-long Rotary International Assembly in San Diego to be trained as a District Governor… All this has shown me how widely and how deeply this organisation extends its benevolent tentacles. I have very quickly made lots of new friends. So where next, I wonder, 20-something years further down one of my Rotary roads?

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” - J. Lennon, Imagine

“Tu peux dire que je suis un rêveur, mais je ne suis pas le seul.”

“Dirás que soy un soñador, pero no soy el único.”

Read on to find the answer. A double flash of Rotary International brilliance last month turbocharged my spinning Rotary wheel …

Inter-Country Committees

An ICC is an Inter-Country Committee. Warmly encouraged by Rotary headquarters in America and Britain and Ireland, more and more countries are signing up to Rotary partnerships with other countries, primarily to promote peace between them. But also, of course, to eradicate diseases, to empower the voices of women and improve their maternal health and childbirth rates, to educate more children, to develop local economies, to provide more clean water for the millions of thirsty people out there, to preserve our planet – in short to pursue, on a country-to-country level, the Rotary Foundation’s multiple Areas of Focus. There’s a graphic to explain in more depth:

I have so far joined two Inter-Country Committees, since I happen to speak both French and Spanish tolerably. We have just chartered, in the beneficent presence of several District Governors and other important Senior Rotarians, who are all as keen as I am to see where this new Rotary wheel will take us. We will regularly meet to discuss several activities and projects we have agreed to undertake: how can French, Spanish and UK Rotarians help Ukraine, for example, or what opportunities are there for Spanish Rotarians to appreciate and help the labour of English wine-growers, or UK Rotarians to understand the deep history and relevance of Spanish flamenco dancing and zarzuelas for promoting the Spanish sense of bienestar (mental good health) and perhaps to stop us sending gunships to fight each other again in the future? 

You can see from the Rotary blue writing in the graphic above that there are various paths to follow, multiple ways in which any Rotarian, including you, might get involved in inter-country and inter-national Rotary activities. Does your Club currently have an exchange visit organised with a Club in France or Spain? Are you twinned with one? Is your Interact Club reducing French or Spanish teenagers’ suicide rates by contacting Interactors abroad on Instagram yet? Are you jointly administering a Global Grant to make a difference in a third country? These sound like good ideas, I’m sure you and they would agree.

Please do get in touch with your District Governor and with me if you would like to pursue some Rotary fun, fellowship and fruitful endeavours with a French or Spanish Rotarian or Rotary Club. We are here to help and promote your plans and ideas, and to try to make them happen.

I think it is one of the most ancient European poets, Aesop, mentally and physically challenged, writing in the 7th century BC, who sums all this up best of all. He told us, simply, to

“Put your shoulder to the wheel.”

Somebody kind once put your wheel on your shoulder. Time to give it a spin and return the favour?

If only Aesop had heard of Rotary International and our Inter-Country Committees.

Read more about Inter-Country Committees

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