District Conference 2018 promises more than inspiring speakers

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UPDATE: SINCE THIS ARTICLE WAS POSTED, CHRIS OFFER HAS REPLACED STEPHANIE WOLLARD AS THE SPEAKER AT THE SUPPORTING PEACE THROUGH THE ROTARY FOUNDATION DINNER ON THURSDAY EVENING. STEPHANIE WILL STILL SPEAK AT THE CONFERENCE AS SCHEDULED.

The District 5370 Conference will be more than just an opportunity to hear great speakers during plenary and breakout sessions.

The conference is also an opportunity to learn and connect with Rotarians from other clubs, October 18 to 20.

House of Friendship

Annie Muller (RC of Edmonton West) says that the House of Friendship, which will be set up in the foyer of Edmonton’s Shaw Conference Centre, between the registration desk and Hall D where main stage sessions will occur, will be “a place for Rotarians to meet.”

.In the centre of the House of Friendship, the MacEwan Rotaract club will erect a Shelterbox tent, as part of its efforts to raise funds to provide temporary shelter for families displaced by natural disasters or war.

There will be 12 additional displays highlighting programs supported by Rotary clubs and individual members, including Project Amigo, Literacy Without Borders, the Emmanuel Foundation, Inclusion Alberta, Well Spring Edmonton and others.

There will also be information about the 2019 District Conference, which will be held in Grande Prairie next fall, and an opportunity to purchase Rotary merchandise, such as clothing, pins and other items.

Annie says space in the House of Friendships was snapped up soon after it became available, earlier this year.

“The majority of displayers signed up quickly,” she says. “Every space was booked and paid for within about a month.”

Annie promises that the House of Friendship will be more than just displays.

“It will be a place for Rotarians to have a conversation, charge their phones and recharge themselves,” she says. “It’s a place where people can meet before or after sessions.”

Peace Dinner

An event being introduced at the conference for the first time is the Supporting Peace Through The Rotary Foundation Dinner, beginning at 5:30 on Thursday evening, October 18.

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Rotary Peace Fellow Stephanie Wollard will be featured speaker during the Supporting Peace Through The Rotary Foundation dinner on Thursday, October 18

There is a separate charge for this dinner, which is open to all Rotarians and guests, whether they are attending the conference or not. Tickets for the dinner cost $85.00, plus GST. Click here to purchase your tickets.The peace dinner is being held conjunction with the Paul Harris Society Dinner, which is traditionally held on the Thursday evening before the conference begins.

The featured speaker will be Stephanie Wollard, a Rotary Peace Fellow and a Rotarian from Australia. She is also speaking at the Conference on Saturday afternoon.

PHS Coordinator Carol Devereux (Rotary Club of Edmonton South) explains that the dinner, “is a way for society members to get together for fellowship and to be recognized for their ongoing contributions to the Foundation.”

The District 5370 Paul Harris Society consists of about 100 members, each of whom has committed to an annual donation of $US1,000 to TRF.

The introduction of a peace dinner fits with the District’s 2018-19 goal to become a Rotary Peacebuilder District.

Carol points to peace and conflict prevention/resolution as one of TRF’s areas of focus.

During 2017-18, Rotary International hosted six Peace Building Summits around the world, each of which focused on how one of the other areas of focus contributed to building more peaceful societies.

“A characteristic of a peaceful society is how it aligns with all the areas of focus for TRF,” Carol says.

“When clubs have projects related to any of these areas of focus, they are contributing to peace building,” she says. “If people are not struggling, they are less likely to be convinced to pick up a gun.”

The other areas of focus for TRF are disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, and economic and community development.

Governor’s Ball

The conference will wrap up Saturday evening with the Governor’s Ball, a celebration of Rotary including a great meal, followed by dancing to the music of an 18-piece orchestra.

The evening will have a 1920’s theme, which District Governor Ingrid Neitsch describes as “a shout out to the early glory years of Rotary, because it was in the 1920’s when things really got going.”

Your conference registration includes a ticket to the Governor’s Ball. Additional tickets are available for purchase for people who will not be attending the rest of the conference.

District Conference speakers who pursued their dreams will inspire Rotarians to follow their own

District conference MainEach of the speakers that Rotarians will hear from at the 2018 District 5370 Conference will underscore the event’s theme, Reach For Your Dream.

“All the speakers had dreams, which they pursued and which were fulfilled,” says District Governor Ingrid Neitsch.

“Listening to them will inspire us to follow our dreams.”

The conference takes place Thursday through Saturday, October 18 to 20, at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton. Click here to register.

Barb Stegemann, who will speak Saturday morning at 9:15, “had a dream to fulfil her friend’s dream and has done so,” Ingrid says.

Stegemann’s friend, Captain Trevor Greene, joined “the military to fight the oppression of women in Afghanistan,” according to a news release promoting the award-winning documentary Perfume Wars, which will be screened at 3:00 p.m. Saturday in Hall D.

The movie shows how, “Barb Stegemann is moved to take on her best friend’s mission after he is brutally axed in the head by the Taliban,” the news release says. “Stegemann works with Afghan famers who grow legal flower crops instead of the illegal heroin poppy—the Taliban’s chief income source—and creates an unlikely weapon for world peace. And it’s perfume.”

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Barb Stegemann will speak on Saturday morning at the District 5370 Conference

The opportunity to see this movie is included in your conference registration, which also includes all the keynote and breakout sessions, access to the House of Friendship, breakfast and lunch on Friday and Saturday, and the Governor’s Ball on Saturday evening.

A discounted first-time attendee rate of $375 is available for any Rotarian or non-Rotarian who has not attended a District Conference previously. Special rates are also available for Rotaractors, Interactors and exchange students.

Ingrid emphasizes that non-Rotarians are welcome to attend the conference. “It’s a great way to have non-Rotarians interact with Rotarians and learn about Rotary and the great work Rotarians do locally and around the world,” she says.

Tickets to attend the screening of Perfume Wars will be available at the door for $20 each to people who are not registered for the conference.

Current and former members of the military have been invited to attend at no charge, as guests of the District.

Captain Greene and his wife Debbie will be present for a question and answer session following the screening.

Another speaker, Stephanie Wollard, “fulfilled her dream to work with women of Nepal who were marginalized due to disabilities.”

This Rotary Peace Fellow and Rotarian from Australia  established a non-profit in 2008 to provide skills training and employment so these women can lead a life of independence.

The story of Seven Women is told in Wollard’s book, From Tin Shed to the United Nations.

Wollard, who spoke at the Rotary International Convention in Toronto in June, will also be the featured speaker at the Supporting Peace through The Rotary Foundation Dinner on Thursday evening.

The dream of Susan Morrice, who will speak at 11:15 on Friday, was to find oil in Belize, where no one had found oil previously.

“Oil executives told her not to waste her time,” Ingrid says, but she wasn’t deterred. “The first well they drilled struck oil.”

Other speakers include Marilyn Fitzgerald, Jeff Polovick, Mitty Chang, Douglas Jackson, Michael Angela Caruso, Jim Bell and Jennifer Jones.

Jones is a former vice-president of Rotary International, one of only three women ever to hold this position.

Information about all the speakers and the conference schedule is available on the conference website, where you can also go to register.

Ingrid believes that Rotarians who attend the conference will be inspired to follow their dreams.

“Through Rotary, we can all fulfil our hopes and dreams.”