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On May 29, in reciprocal gestures, Rotary International unveiled a state-of-the-art conference room that it hopes will be put to community use, and Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl presented its outgoing president with a key to the City.
Rotary International President Sakuji Tanaka said when he explains to others “what Rotary is and what we do, the short answer is, ‘Rotary is a way for people to make the world a better place.’” His one-year term as RI president will expire in June. From his base in Evanston, he said, he has spent the last two years traveling, “but at the same time, Evanston is my home. … Evanston has opened its heart to me.” Among the things he said he found here were “deep snow piles that I rarely experienced in Japan.”
The conference room has several state-of-the-art language-interpretation stations, wireless functionality and classroom seating for 100 persons, said John Hewko, Rotary International general secretary. Emphasizing that Rotary International’s mission is both local and global, he pointed to the many clocks on the wall where the time in “international and local” communities such as Espoo, Finland; Newcastle, Australia; Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan; and Papeete, New Guinea are displayed.
“We hope [the room] will serve as a community forum for issues that Rotary International cares about, such as international politics, community service and humanitarianism,” Mr. Hewko said.
Mayor Tisdahl said Evanston and Rotary value similar ideas. “You value diversity; we in Evansotn are proud of our diversity. You value volunteering; we value volunteering. Where you are concerned with health care, we are too. You are a perfect partner for Evanston.”
In presenting a key to the City to Mr. Tanaka she said these keys are reserved for people “we highly value and [whom] we want to come back.”