Introduction for RI President Holger Knaack by Past District Governor Bill Gray
Welcome Holger.  You are the first (sitting) President of Rotary International to attend the weekly meeting of Rotary Club of Cataraqui-Kingston in our thirty-six-year history.  So welcome.  We are honoured to have you with us.  Your theme Rotary Opens Opportunities reflects my experience in Rotary – and I am quite certain for many of us in this Zoom meeting today. Rotary Opens Opportunities for Youth. You have said that after Polio, Rotary is best known for its Youth Programmes.  You did not expect to be President of Rotary International. Rotary opened an opportunity for you to serve in that way. You said yes when you received a phone call in May 2019, serving the shortest President Nominee period ever, just one month.  At the International Assembly in January 2019, you said “Crisis becomes an opportunity.”  No one knew then the crisis the world would be facing in just one year’s time.  We are in good hands.  Fellow Rotarians, please welcome President Holger Knaack.
Highlights of Holger’s presentation:
Rotary opens opportunities for others as well as for ourselves.  This happens through the many service projects that we undertake.  It also provides an opportunity for personal growth.  Members can become better leaders, and better speakers.  It can broaden one’s perspective, and it can raise our level of tolerance for others.  Holger and his wife, Susanne, had no children of their own, but they hosted many different Youth Exchange students over the years. 
No one expected the Covid 19 pandemic, or the changes it would create.  We need to keep all of the things we are learning from it.  For example, Zoom meetings allow us to have interesting speakers from anywhere in the world.  We shouldn’t always be doing the same things, and the pandemic has made us more flexible.  Many people are saving money because they cannot travel, but at the same time we can’t wait to be able to shake hands and hug each other.
Holger believes that each club should have a strategic meeting once a year, to look at where they would like to be in five years.  He is concerned about the increasing average age of Rotarians.  In his club it is 64.  In the whole of the UK it is 75!  This is a good reason to focus on youth as potential members.  Rotary is a place where lifelong friendships can form. 
This is a good time for the theme, “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion”.  The Black Lives Matter movement in the USA has brought this to the forefront, but diversity looks different in every country.  Discrimination is everywhere, and as Rotarians we need to stand up to it and fight it.  Discrimination can appear in the smallest of ways.  Rotary International has now formed a task force to address this.
Questions and Answers:
Q:  You have been involved in the Rotary Youth Exchange.  What can we do to better integrate these kids?  How can we encourage people to be host families?
A:  Look for non-Rotarian hosts.  A great source can be the parents whose kids participated in the programme.  We need to stay in touch with our Youth Exchange participants.  It’s all about engagement.
Q:  How is the Rotary Foundation doing?
A:  In the past few years, contributions have not dropped very much, but the Annual Fund has because applications have doubled. 
Q:  Does RI think of assisting with distributing the Covid 19 vaccines?
A:  Definitely yes because we are organized for this already through polio vaccinations.  The structure is already there and it would be perfect for Africa, Asia, and India.  The companies making the vaccines can only bring them to airports.  Rotary should have a public image campaign in conjunction with this.
Q:  What is RI doing to get youthful members?
A:  RI can only encourage Rotary Clubs in this direction.  Currently Rotary’s membership image is that of a revolving door.  We need to work at keeping our members.
Q:  What is RI doing about dues for Rotaract members?
A:  In 2022 this will be very small…something like $5 to $8.  Rotary Clubs could help them.  At this time there is no cost.  Find ways to get them to join your club.  One district in India has 25,000 Rotaract members.
Q:  Strategic meetings are important, and thanks to Covid we have been given opportunities to meet by Zoom.
A:  Rotary is a grass roots organization, and that’s where strategic planning must take place. 
Q:  What approach should clubs take to balance support of RI initiatives versus the needs of local communities?
A:  Needs vary from one community to another, resulting in a balance that may be different from one community to another.
Q:  How do you (Holger) deal with Zoom fatigue?
A:  Normally a RI President travels a lot.  Because of the pandemic, there is no travel, but I am loving the ability to meet on screen with people, and it has provided an opportunity to reach out to so many.  I see many opportunities in Zoom.
John Gale thanked Holger with a virtual loaf of bread after explaining what we would normally do in an in-person meeting.
Holger’s last remark was, “Don’t forget to have fun!”