After taking the stage to the tune of "California, Here I Come," RI President-elect Ray Klinginsmith announced the 2010-11 RI theme, Building Communities -- Bridging Continents, during the opening plenary session of the 2010 International Assembly .
Klinginsmith said he arrived at the theme after reviewing RI themes of years past. He noticed that only a few spoke to non-Rotarians.
"As a result, I decided to search for a briefly stated theme that would fulfill two objectives: the first to explain Rotary to non-Rotarians, and the second to validate our work for Rotarians," he said. "The words I have selected to describe Rotary's current mission and to highlight our achievements are what we do best: Building Communities -- Bridging Continents. "
The president-elect described how his 50 years of Rotary experience have contributed to his focus on communities at home and abroad. For example, as a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar, he studied for a year in South Africa, becoming the first student from his small town of Unionville, Missouri, USA, to study abroad.
The timing of the theme announcement, which took place in the evening, was a break in tradition from past assemblies and a reflection of Klinginsmith's willingness to embrace change. He encouraged district governors-elect to reexamine traditional procedures that were no longer best practices and to begin new traditions where appropriate.
He also paid homage to Rotarians of the past who helped raise Rotary to a place of prominence on the world stage. He urged district governors-elect to meet the past RI presidents and other former officers in attendance to deepen their connection to Rotary's past.
"I love it," says Governor-elect Robert Martin, of District 5020 (British Columbia, Canada; Washington, USA). "I'm going to be promoting Rotary pride in our district next year, and Building Communities -- Bridging Continents is something we can all be proud of."