I have just celebrated my first year as a Rotaractor and our Rotaract Club of Suzhou has also celebrated its first year. In addition to that, our Rotaract club had been given the opportunity to be volunteers at the 2nd District Rotaract Conference which invites all Rotaracts and Rotaries, from all over China and Asia(Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Philippines, Japan,…).
The conference was held in Lefu hotel Suzhou from the 10th till the 12th of November. The attendees started coming in from various places on Friday, and so I, among other volunteers had the task of taking them from the train station to the hotel. It was a wonderful and proud moment for me to be able to help people, engage with them and make friends.
After taking them to the hotel, we, volunteers, helped them check in and then we went to the Maxbar, a pub which was about 50 metres near the hotel. We had dinner, had fun, played pool and got to know each other. I, for one, felt as if I was in a movie. You know, how in American movies, there are parties at someone’s place after a football match and everyone wears the same jacket, well, I had the same feeling.
Everyone had fun. Though I have to admit that I was a bit pissed off that my food took long to arrive and when I did get my food, I was not hungry anymore.
The second day, Saturday the 11th was the busiest day. The day started with opening remarks by Dusan Nesic and our Grandpa Frank and with a ring of “The bell”. We had a lot of workshops packed in one day. We had a very interesting ice-breaking session, where each person in a team had clues but they were not allowed to share their clues with others. They then had to find the answer to a question based on those clues. It was interesting to find out that different teams had different strategies, and the teams worked in different ways. It was a way to see how people communicate with each other and what the problems are when people try to communicate with each other.
Then we had a workshop on professional development. During this workshop we had to, through some activities, find out whether we are a leader or a follower. We also had a very strict and scary session about laws regarding our Rotary and Rotaract Clubs. Diane, our speaker reviewed some basic laws that we are supposed to know, and informed us about some new laws that came in effect this year or that will be implemented by the end of the year.
We also had breakout sessions. We had different workshops for Networking, Run in Blue-Project Management, Presidents, Treasurers , Secretaries and Asia-Pacific. It was a great learning experience for me as the treasurer of Rotaract Suzhou.
After a very intense workshop, we had another intense lecture about the dos and don’ts when doing advertisements, what language to use, what color palettes to use,etc.
It was an eventful day, especially since we had coffee break without coffee. Luckily, there was Starbucks near the hotel and many people seized the opportunity to grab coffee during the breaks.
Another issue that we faced that day was a misunderstanding with the restaurant where we ordered food.
They thought that we did not need our lunch packed, and that we would be having lunch as buffet. We were fortunate that we got to the restaurant earlier than previously decided and we managed to pack the lunch ourselves.
After a long and tiring day, we got dressed up for the gala dinner. Everyone was beautifully dressed. Everyone was happy. We ate, drank and each club gave a 5 minutes presentation about their club activities and their future projects, It was quite enriching because we got to know about different ideas and different perspectives.
As Steffen and Angie from the Professional development workshop said, we all may have the same why (the same goal) but our hows(the way we do things) are different.
After a scrumptious dinner, we all got ready, this time to get the real party, the masquerade party, started.
We all danced crazily, displayed our talents on the dance floor, and we just gyrated to the music in the club.The party ended very very late and the end of the party brought us to our third day of Dracon.
Sunday was fun day for us. Dusan Nesic closed the 2nd Dracon thanking volunteers and helpers, and then we made our way for our city tour.
Our attendees were separated in 2 groups. One group went to visit Ping Jiang Street and volunteer at an elderly home, while the other group visited the Suzhou Museum and Finger-painting activity with Autistic children at the Sunflower center.
I was in the second group and I have to say that I had an awesome time. Crazy photo sessions, crazier theories about how to steal valuable items at the museum(just kidding), and sometimes serious conversations were on the menu for the trip.
For lunch, the two groups met in a restaurant in Ping Jiang Street, where we had typical and delicious Suzhou foods.
After lunch, our group went to the Autism center but unfortunately, we could not play with the children because we were delayed. However, we learnt a few tricks from our magician friend from Taiwan. A teacher from the Autism center gave us a presentation on the center, what they do and she also gave us some more information about autistic children, how their life is, and how the center helps them become more independent. The statistics for China is very scary. The gap between number of autistic children and special teachers for these children is huge. In all, It was a rich learning experience.
After the presentation, it was time for goodbyes. We had to leave the friends we made during these 3 days. I had made some good friends. I had never thought that I would be so sad of their departure. I really hope that we meet again in the near or even far future. Personally, these 3 days were the highlights of my senior year and I am more than sure that I will never forget these memories.
We learnt a lot, about managing our clubs but above all, we learnt how to communicate, how to cooperate with each other to work efficiently, which is in line with our four way test:
- Is it the truth?
- Is it fair to all concerned?
- Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
- Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
Thank you all for an amazing weekend.
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We, Rotaractors, strive hard to become role models for the society, and to help our community become a better place to live in.