“We can be better, we can do better, and we are better”
Barbara McChesney (RC Windsor, USA) and Melanie Lewis (Rotary Social Impact Network, Sidney, Australia) are sharing their experiences at the Rotary International Convention in Melbourne where they promoted Endplasticsoup as Ambassador.
Barbara McChesney at the RI Conference Melbourne 2023
The Melbourne convention was my first ever Rotary convention, and it exceeded all expectations. Supporting End Plastic Soup added to the significance and delight of the experience. Quite honestly, I was worried that I may not be up to the task asked of me and Melanie Lewis. I had never been to a convention of this type, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The advance preparation with Melanie and Gert-Jan was really helpful so by the time I arrived in Melbourne I was super excited. I met Melanie soon after arriving at the convention center for the first time in person and knew I had made a friend for life.
The energy in the House of Friendship was invigorating from the first moment stepping through the doors. The energy of Rotarians from all over the world gathering for the sole purpose of making a positive mark on humanity gave me a sense of hope. It increased my knowledge of Rotary as an organization that will be most helpful in work going forward.
Time in the EndPlasticSoup booth and throughout the convention allowed for wonderful networking opportunities. We found that Rotarians were eager for information about the impact plastic has on human health, as well as our precious environment. Resources and ideas were shared, and enthusiasm was raised to take action steps. Time at the booth was fun, heartwarming, and quite a learning experience.
Our presentation was on the last day and in the last time slot of the breakout sessions. Every seat in the room was full with many people hoping to get in the doors. Rotarians at all levels of the organization were eager and passionate to learn and share strategies. My portion of the presentation started with a photo of my only grandchild wearing his End Plastic Soup t-shirt. When I saw his photo on the big screen I choked up and had to catch myself. Melanie and I had taken the strategy of “How are you going to show up for your grandchildren and great grandchildren?”. We included the mantra “We can be better, we can do better, and we are better” throughout our talk. This resonates with people that we can each be responsible for a piece of the solution. We could feel that every person in the room left feeling the same sense of alarm we set out to convey. It was exhilarating.
I thank you Gert-Jan for your encouragement to co-represent EPS at the convention. It was an honor and a pleasure to support the work of those who created EPS. I most definitely stepped out of my comfort-zone. I will always hold this time in my heart as a profound ‘Rotary moment’ and carry with me renewed drive and inspiration to continue this important work. We must be better for the generations to come.
Singapore, here we come!!!
End PlasticSoup Ambassador Club RC Windsor, D5130 CA, USA
Message from Melanie Lewis, Sydney, Australia
Attending the Rotary International Convention in Melbourne was a truly enlightening and inspiring experience. From the first moment, the air was filled with anticipation and a shared sense of purpose. Amidst the sea of passionate Rotarians from around the world, I had the privilege of delivering a breakout session on plastic pollution for End Plastic Soup. The room was abuzz with enthusiasm as fellow conference delegates eagerly gathered to learn about the pressing issue at hand.
The session began with an introduction highlighting the detrimental impact of plastic pollution on our planet. With vivid images and alarming statistics, I painted a clear picture of the urgent need for action. The audience hung on every word, their expressions transforming from shock to determination as Barbara spoke of our global Youth Ambassadors as well as Global Grants and other projects being done by Rotarians just like them. It was evident that this global challenge resonated deeply with each person present.
Throughout the convention, we had numerous interactions around the efforts being made to combat plastic pollution. Rotarians from diverse backgrounds shared their experiences and success stories, sparking a collective optimism and renewed motivation. It was heartening to witness how this shared cause transcended borders, language barriers, and cultural differences. The discussions were rich with innovative ideas, collaborative projects, and resources being shared.
The importance of addressing plastic pollution cannot be overstated. The detrimental effects on marine life, ecosystems, and human health demand immediate action. Rotarians around the world have recognised this urgency and are actively engaging with their local communities to create awareness, implement sustainable practices, and promote responsible waste management. Moreover, they have harnessed the power of this topic to connect with the younger generation, involving them in projects and initiatives that empower them to become environmental stewards.
Youth engagement has emerged as a pivotal aspect of combating plastic pollution. Rotarians have taken it upon themselves to educate and inspire young people, nurturing their innate sense of environmental responsibility. From organizing clean-up drives and recycling campaigns to incorporating environmental education in schools, we effectively utilise the topic of plastic pollution as a catalyst for community engagement and youth empowerment.
Attending the Rotary International Convention in Melbourne not only expanded my knowledge about Rotary, but it also underscored the global commitment to finding sustainable pollution solutions. The connections forged, the stories shared, and the collective determination to combat this crisis left an indelible mark on me. As I left the convention, I carried with me a renewed sense of purpose and a firm belief in the power of Rotary to drive positive change.
President EndPlasticSoup Ambassador Club Rotary Social Impact Network, Sidney, D9685, Australia
District 9685 Environment Chair | Foundation Committee | Coordinator, Rotary Youth Program of Enrichment (RYPEN)
Thank you Barbara and Melanie and all volunteers!
On behalf of the Board of EndPlasticSoup we would like to thank all our volunteers from Supporter and Ambassador clubs from all over the world. They promoted the EndplasticSoup initiative and staffed the EndPlasticSoup booth during the convention.
We would like to express a special word of thanks to Barbara and Melanie who prepared the convention with us, gave the breakout presentation about EndPlasticSoup and set up and staffed our booth in the House of Friendship. We appreciate all your work and your great spirit!
On Friday 14th July Melanie and Barbara repeated the Breakout presentation in a webinar for our Ambassador and Supporter Clubs. The webinar has been recorded. When you are interested mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
On behalf of the Board of EndPlasticSoup,
Gert-Jan van Dommelen, Secretary