Thursday, 1 April 2010

Day 11-13 Rotary Club of Colombo (Conference)

Day 11
Our hosts for the Conference weekend were to be The Rotary Club of Colombo. 100 members and the oldest club in Sri Lanka. A press conference had been arranged at the Colombo Club (Part of the Taj) prior to their luncheon meeting where we did a presentation. Before the press meeting the team was given an insight into the colourful history of the Colombo Club and its founder members.
Please note that the Colombo Club, a gentleman’s Club was different to the Rotary Club of Colombo. At the press conference although only one reporter turned up she was very keen and took many details down about our visit, background and aims of the GSE Vocational Exchange. Again it was a relaxed affair which seems to be the norm over here in Sri Lanka. We rushed straight from that to attend the Rotary meeting and give our presentation. Again we were warmly welcomed and banners were exchanged. The keynote speaker Rohantha worked for UNOPS (United Nations Office for Project Services). He gave a fascinating report on the progress made in the north of Sri Lanka and the up to date position as regards the refugees and the reintroduction of business and commerce into the region.
That night we attended the Alumni Dinner as new members of an exclusive part of Rotary following our commitment to become part of GSE. We wore our badges with pride. The week had been hectic and the following day (Friday) was the District Conference at Waters Edge; an impressive conference centre which was also a golf club and spa.
Day 12
Lunch was at the Cricket Club cafe. Yet another Sports Club but this was really fascinating with the walls completely covered with cricket memorabilia. On the way back to the host’s house Jim gave a press interview in the back of Tissa’s car! It was the reporter from the Sunday Times who thn later put a substantial article into the paper.
The Conference had received record registrations over 900 and the hall seemed enormous. Around the hall were huge banners one from each Club it was really impressive.The opening ceremony commence at 3.45pm was quite dramatic as all 65 Clubs were alphabetically introduced on screen and singers and dancers mainly from the Rotoract Clubs provided the entertainment. The event finished at 8.45 with “cocktails”. The following day was going to be our presentation.

Day 13
At last the brochures had come!!! They were excellent but we had been waiting for them since we had landed in Colombo and there it was an opportune time to distribute them amongst the delegates. The running order of the conference meant that the GSE presentations were in the slot just before lunch. What also became apparent is that there was going to be four presentations plus two introductions from Adam (GSE Coordinator) and Lucky plus an Ambassadorial Scholars presentation!!! All in one hour and 15 minutes! It was obvious that time was going to be an issue. The plan was that the outgoing teams to India and the UK would take 10 minutes each; the incoming teams 20 minutes and the other presentations 5 minutes each. The outgoing team leader from Sri Lanka to India himself took 15 minutes and then passed over to his team who were promptly curtailed only being able to say their names. This was really unsettling. Suresh, Michael and Roland managed to keep to time and the GSE Team Leader from India did over run a little. Then it was us! With a dramatic opening sequence and music from the latest U2 album we were ready to rock their socks off!
One by one we stepped up and did our bit. Following Jim's introduction to the "Regeneration theme" came Michelle overcome all her nerves as she regarded herself as a caring and fun loving person
Then came Dan the cookie monster
John and the Isle of Man a tax sollutions island and then Gill the ardent Manchester United supporter Jim was nervously looking and praying that the video clip worked...and it did! Much relieved he then told conference about Rotary in District 1280.
Our presentation had already been cut from 30 minutes to 25 minutes and we wanted to give greetings from DG Elizabeth and also persuade conference to auction off the cricket memorabilia. So we overran and at first DG Suri looked displeased but smiled when Jim announced that he was cheekily going to introduce the auction and the gifts from DG Elizabeth. All in all the presentation went well; we did our best and the IT worked... but we did interrupt lunch!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Fiesta ensued and what were we to expect as a celebration of what was obviously a successful conference. We arrived around 7.30 back at The Water’s Edge which is also a golf course. But there would be no golf tonight…There was a huge stage and food marquees, seating areas and part of a fairground and of course beer and spirit watering holes! It was spectacular. There was a Chinese stall, Sri Lanka stall, Indian and Arabic stalls and the food was delicious. All of the drinks had been sponsored by a Club. The DG was brought in on a chariot pulled by white stallions!! The horses bolted and we nearly lost the DG! After the drama came the fashion show and then the surprise was a 30 minutes firework display around 11.00pm. The atmosphere was pure carnival and everyone who we had met previously was there and willing us to have a good time. In other words the glasses were never empty. We realised just how many friends we had made. What a wonderful way to finish our time in Colombo as the following day; yes you guessed it back to Lanka Hands to commence our expedition up country.

1 comment:

  1. Hope all is still going well - you all seem to be having amazing encounters. Keep safe