Exploring space, eradicating polio: Rotary convention speakers push to reach new horizons

Empower girls. End polio. Embrace new challenges. Speakers who urge us to see the world in new ways and take action to change people’s lives are inspiring participants at the 2022 Rotary International Convention in Houston, Texas, USA.

Rotary’s annual gathering always includes fascinating and motivating speakers who are making an impact in the world. This year’s world-class lineup features:

  • Dr. Hamid Jafari, director of polio eradication for the World Health Organization’s Eastern Mediterranean region. He leads the efforts in an area that includes Afghanistan and Pakistan, the only two countries where wild polio remains endemic. Jafari previously led the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), in which Rotary is a partner.
  • Anbita Nadine Siregar is a founder of Generation Girl (Yayasan Generasi Maju Berkarya), an Indonesian-based organization that introduces young women to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and empowers them to become leaders. Siregar has a background in computer science and social entrepreneurship and has a passion for technology.
  • General Charles Duke (USAF Ret.) was the Lunar Module pilot on the fifth moon landing during the Apollo 16 mission. He is one of only 12 humans ever to land on the lunar surface, the 10th man and the youngest person to walk on the moon. Fifty years ago in April of 1972, he and crew mate John Young explored the lunar highlands. Following his career as an astronaut, Duke has been a businessman and public speaker.
  • Gingger Shankar is a filmmaker, musician, composer, and activist. She has worked with former U.S. first lady Michelle Obama and film director Ava DuVernay. Through her art, she champions educating and empowering girls and protecting the environment. She is the founder of Little Indian Girl Productions and works to amplify diverse and rarely heard voices.
  • Orion Jean, an 11-year-old from Texas, wants to make the world a kinder place. He was named TIME magazine’s Kid of the Year for 2021 for using $500 that he won in the National Kindness Speech Contest to create Race to Kindness. Through that organization, Jean has donated toys and meals for families. He is now collecting books for children who don’t have them at home.

After two years of connecting virtually because of COVID-19, Rotary members have been excited to Discover New Horizons in person at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Many others have joined the sessions online. The convention brings together members from around the world to learn from each other, share their differing perspectives, and build new friendships.

During breakout sessions, participants have the chance to develop their leadership skills and get inspired with new ideas for projects, fundraising, and strengthening membership. They take part in discussions about increasing diversity, engaging young leaders, and developing sustainable projects that can expand to serve more people and change more lives.