Attached is my essay from John Fackler who attended the Rotary International conference in Hamburg, Germany.  The 2020 RI convention will  be held in Hawaii.

Werner Rose from the College Station Rotary Club and I started our Rotary Convention activities on Saturday when we arrived at the Reichshof Hotel selected by Hamden Rotary Tours. We arrived by train from Berlin on an ICE that reached a speed of 249 km/hr. at one point. The hotel was across the street from the main Bahnhof (train and subway station). Our tour agency had obtained our registration badges which were waiting at the hotel. The hotel took our passports to sort out our rooms which they did and returned them to us in our passport folders. (This was a big mistake which nearly cost me my trip home on Thursday when, at the airport I found that I had Werner’s passport.) After a nice meal in the hotel we got ready for a busy Sunday, the Convention Opening Day.
Sunday began with a tour of Hamburg at 9 am organized by our tour agency. This was very pleasant and gave us a good overview of this industrial, port city and its many canals and two lakes. Returning at 1 PM we freshened up and headed to the Movenpick hotel by taxi for a very nice reception organized by District Governor Elect Becky Mason and her husband for all Rotary members of our District 5910. There were about 50 of us and we enjoyed the conversation along with the meal and refreshments. At 3:30 PM we walked to the Convention Center for the second opening session. Two opening sessions were required to seat the 24,000 Rotarians. After the session, Hamden Rotary Club Tours had a reception for us at the hotel. On our walk back I observed bicycle paths unlike any I have seen in the US, permanent sidewalk structures. 
The Opening Session was a fun event. Werner and I were not able to get into the main hall, so we had to watch on screens in an adjacent hall that had very nice tables and seats with water at each table. Haresh Ramchandani, a past Jamaica District Governor was an excellent Moderator of the ceremonies. The event started with the parade of flags in which the countries represented by Rotary showed us their flags. This was followed by President Barry Rassin informing us what he hoped would be achieved at the convention. His focus this year has been on bringing young people into Rotary, especially through Rotaract and Interact. The session included music and short inspirational talks by prominent former Rotaractors and Interactors.
Monday’s opening session focused on Leadership and Integrity. There were several good speakers including Steve Farber President of the Extreme Leadership Institute. He made the point that “Love is not only appropriate in the context of business, it’s the foundation of great leadership, and, therefore, the very foundation of a thriving, competitive enterprise.” This emphasis from Rotary was refreshing to me since it seems that few people talk about how much they love their job or whatever they are doing. “Cultivate Love” was a big slide used in his presentation. Others successful leaders such as the CEO of Deutsche Telekom, Timotheus Höttges and a VP of Capitol One, Cassie Howder who was a former Interact leader spoke in this session. Afterwards we went into Hall of Friendship for a light lunch and a tour of the various exhibits.
The Hall of Friendship was across the street from the large lecture hall. On the way we passed several food stands and trucks and outdoor tented areas where you could sit and eat your lunch. Escalators up to a walkway that goes across the street got us into the Hall of Friendship. Here were booths managed by people from all over the world advertising projects of all sorts. On display were several different methods for purifying water. Some African booths were selling items made by natives. A Hamburg booth sold a small book written by two university professors describing the improper behavior of Rotary (by any standards) during the Nazi period. This was a good read; Rotary must help avoid this problem ever happening again.
Monday evening Werner and I along with about 500 Rotarians attended a very nice organ concert in Hauptkirche St. Michaelis. This church has four large organs all played from one consol. There are even pipes in the ceiling. It was a fine concert; however, we missed the refreshments that were available before the concert.
Tuesday’s opening session was focused on Leadership. The speakers generally were good. I was impressed with the presentation by one of the female Trustees of the Rotary foundation (there are 3 women trustees out of 10), Chairwoman Brenda Marie Cressy, who up-dated us on the Polio Eradication effort. Also, unlike the 2018-19 Board of Directors which contained no women, there are two on the 2019-20 Board. Leadership in Rotary is finally changing appropriately. In the afternoon, I attended a breakout session presented by some clubs in Osaka, Japan, which described how membership has been increased. Female membership is at the 40% level in these clubs.
Wednesday’s opening session dealt with Diversity and Fellowship. I was especially impressed by talks given by Patience Asiimwe from Uganda who explained efforts to immunize children in hard to reach areas of Uganda and by Dr. Marianne A. Azer, a member of the Egyptian Parliament, among her other leadership roles who described The Rotary effort in Egypt.
In general all three opening sessions not only had good speakers, the talks were broken up by entertainment of various types, from special artistic skills on Monday introduced by Barry Rassin as he talked about administering polio immunization drops, to information about RI such as the presentation by Lark Doley of Toastmasters International. She informed us that Rotary International has joined forces with Toastmasters to develop skills among our leadership. The closing session at 5 PM brought to the stage the 2019-20 President of RI, Mark Daniel Maloney of Mobile, Alabama whose theme is “Rotary Connects the World.”
John p. Fackler, Jr.