One of the great privileges of being president of Rotary International is having the chance to visit so many parts of the Rotary world. Usually I travel to participate in Rotary events; speak at Rotary clubs, conferences, and institutes; and encourage Rotarians in their service. But as president, I am responsible for all branches of the Rotary family. This means that it is also my privilege to support the service of Rotary's youngest generations: our Rotaractors, Interactors, Rotary Youth Exchange students, and Rotary Youth Leadership Awards participants.
When I see the work Rotarians do, I am always impressed, always excited, and always inspired. When I see the work of our New Generations, I am all of this – and frequently I am surprised as well. Not by the quality of their work – for I have learned to expect great things from them – but by the creativity and ingenuity of their thinking. I look at what they have done and think not just "What a great job!" but "What a great idea!" Because every generation sees the world in a unique way, and every individual has a unique point of view. Faced with the same problems, we arrive at different solutions. This is why, in Rotary, our diversity – of culture, language, expertise, gender, and age – is our strength.
In Rotary, we try to take the long view in our service. We aspire to serve in ways that will make a lasting difference, that will continue to have an impact after our participation ends. Our younger generations, in my experience, share this sentiment, and apply it globally, by focusing on environmental issues in new and innovative ways. When I became a Rotarian, environmental issues were barely on our radar. To young people today, these concerns are front and center. Their perspective is a valuable contribution to the world of Rotary service, and it is one that we should all encourage and support. Just as they are learning from us, so should we be learning from them.
The young people who are serving in Rotaract and Interact, and participating in Youth Exchange and RYLA today, are the Rotarians of tomorrow. When we support them, we are supporting the future of our entire organization. We are helping to train the men and women who will be the club presidents, district governors, RI directors, and RI presidents of tomorrow.
GARY C.K. HUANG