On Friday 17th & Saturday 18th I attended District 2240 PETS training in Olomounc. This is to prepare all us up and coming Presidents to be efficient and follow Rotary protocols.  Not only President Elects but District Governor Elects, and Assistant District Governors, in all about 150 attended the conference from all over the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

We met up on Friday evening for a meal, a chance to introduce ourselves to those seated near us. Saturday the conference was kicked off early to a full conference room.  We were given talks on how to attract new members, especially younger members and keep fees low to encourage those who have vocational jobs, who do caring work to join Rotary, these are the members who are most likely to volunteer and that is a very valuable contribution, more so than just putting your hand in your pocket and producing some cash. Rotary is much more than simply business networking.

We discussed many issues, a number of Clubs presented their projects in the hope to inspire others to do similar.  Many focused on the wellbeing of children: at home and abroad, providing specialist play equipment and medical support for families who have a child with extreme special needs.  I spoke with Hana who is running a project in Malawi, 'Happy Classrooms' – encouraging children to attend school and teaching teachers how to keep children in school when poverty usually demands they leave and find paid work.  All this possible through the Global Grant programme of the Rotary Foundation.

We discussed the District's finances and where our contributions go.  What the District does with this money and what funds local Clubs can use for specialist projects.  The Administration of Clubs, communication with committee chairs and other useful functional tools.

Prague International is the biggest club in the District, it is also the only English speaking club, whilst there are other 'International' clubs the tend to speak a mixture of English/Czech/German.  There is a lot of translating going on – especially for me at the conference, as I don't speak much Czech and I need to thank Helena for taking the time to help me out.

I was left knowing what is expected of me as President and having met some interesting people who are doing great things in the name of Rotary.  Key comments were to increase the number of younger members, keep membership fees affordable, especially to people who work in low paid vocational work.  We need a variety of members and should take members from all walks of life.