It was a privilege to be able to attend the International Convention in San Diego. Some 530 Presidents Elect and spouses from all over the world filled the halls at the spacious Grand Hyatt on the waterfront in downtown San Diego. The week’s activities ran like a well-oiled machine – our lanyards were micro-chipped and we were scanned at least 5 times a day to keep track of us. It was a bit un-nerving to be part of this ‘big brother’ approach but understandable when considering the cost of the whole exercise.
The first item of business on Day 1 was the announcement of the theme for 2016-17. This was done with the appropriate pomp and ceremony. It was very well received – a simple, yet highly appropriate slogan, ‘Rotary Serving Humanity’. The numerous stalls at the Convention knew this in advance of course and were well-stocked with theme badges and themed products.
The training provided was well organised and relevant most of the time.  I felt that the training we had already received in Australia put us well ahead of our American counterparts and this is a credit to our DG preparation system.  Incoming RI President, John F Germ, strongly promoted the upcoming centennial year of the Rotary Foundation and asked us all for a 5% increase in giving to the Annual Fund – a not unreasonable request! The main thrust however, was to finally eradicate polio in the last 2 countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The figure John Germ put to us was $1.2 billion to finally finish the job and maintain the inoculation. The Gates Foundation is continuing its support with its $2 for our $1 up to $35,000,000 for the coming year thereby providing $105,000,000 for the End Polio campaign. 

Rotary Foundation Trustee Chair-elect Kalyan Banerjee introduces the Foundation goals for 2016-17, which include ending polio and strengthening members’ awareness and support of the Foundation. Foundation Trustees have set a target of $300 million in total giving for the year.    Photo Credit: Rotary International/Monika Lozinska
The Australian contingent was very visible on the social scene. Festival night saw us showcasing Australiana and performing on stage in a variety of Australian clobber. We performed, albeit in an average manner, an original song written by one of our interstate DGEs and participated in the Grand March, much to the amusement of the locals.
One of the strong emphases of John Germ was the Presidential Citation – he is encouraging all Presidents to achieve this. In addition, he has introduced a District Citation award which I will look at more closely at a later date.
The social aspect of the Convention contributed to the whole experience. Meeting and mingling with such a diverse group of people was extremely rewarding and enriching. The meal times were an adventure at times. Sitting with Rotarians from another culture, some of whom spoke no English, made for very interesting times.
It was a long haul to get there, some 22 hours in the air and at airports but it was very worthwhile.

Nigerian district governor-elect Patrick Ijehon Ikheloa and his spouse, Zainab, lead their delegation during the Grand March at the International Assembly on 19 January. Attendees dress in regional attire for the march to a banquet celebrating Rotary’s internationality and diversity.
Photo Credit: Rotary International/Alyce Henson
A group of attendees from Denmark wave the Danish flag during the Grand March.
Photo Credit: Rotary International/Monika Lozinska
Shortly after my return to Australia, I was welcomed back by many Past District Governors at a gathering at the home of DG Doug and Lynne.  It was wonderful to meet with them, some of whom I had not seen for quite some time.
I’m looking forward to my year as District Governor in 2016/17 and will do my best to serve you well.
DGE John Pohl
RI President-elect John F. Germ and his spouse, Judy, are introduced at the second general session of the 2016 International Assembly on 18 January. Germ unveiled the 2016-17 presidential theme, 'Rotary Serving Humanity.'
Photo Credit: Rotary International/Monika Lozinska