Debi introduced District Governor Kees van der Pol.  He has been retired for 7 years, and been in British Columbia and teaching for his entire career.  He received a BA in Geography and German.  In 1974, he spent 1 year at the Kyoto University in Tokyo, Japan, where his wife Mayumi immigrated to Canada from.  Both are very involved in Rotary taking on multiple leadership positions, and have been married for 38 years. Their passion is travel, having frequently been in Japan and Europe, going on multiple tours.   
Kees thanked us for the warm reception, and to Eric for the meeting and dinner the previous night.  He and Mayumi had enjoyed the travel here.  He started by mentioning an e-mail that he had received.  It told the story about a girl who takes a bite out of an apple, chews, swallows it, and does the same thing with another apple.  Her mother tried not to show disappointment in her daughter as she took both apples, but then her daughter said “I think you’ll like this, it’s the sweeter one."  The lesson here: No matter how knowledgeable you think you are, never conclude your judgment of others before understanding them first.  This e-mail came from a young lady in Pakistan, who had previously interviewed them on television regarding the Rotary Friendship Exchange they had undertaken there.  One reason he brought this up is as it is from Pakistan, which is a location we hear so many negative things about including the lack of education for women. 
Kees spoke about his Rotary story.  His parents taught him about service, and grew up with that philosophy in mind.  For 5 years he was “Mr Rotary” at his local group, handling all duties in the organization at one point or another. However, he noticed there were some conflicts that hadn’t been attended to in the group, and they had lost roughly 20 members of their club, including him.  He did eventually rejoin Rotary, though not for its worldwide leadership and membership, but because of what he saw last night at our Rotary board meeting: the banter, the “loudness,” and the friendship. 
He asked his club’s president George Harding about what positions might be available, and he was interested in the leadership aspect of it.  George informed him that all positions were filled except for president-elect, so he took it.  Kees believes in a 2-year presidency, helping to push the quality of leadership through the experience gained over time.  He found his 2nd year to be much better than the first. 
Mayumi also spoke about her Rotary experience.  Her first experience was working with Ethiopian doctors, even though she didn’t have any training.  Her job was to take down names for patients.  It was a tough environment to work in with excessive heat and a strong body oder.  There was an air conditioner on the wall, but they couldn’t use it as they didn’t have enough power to run it.  Life changing operations including injections in their eyes only took 15 minutes, and cataract surgery only costs $50 there and yet it can make such a profound difference for inflicted individuals. 
Kees’s expressed one of his key “Rotary moments” was when one of their patients they were assisting hugged him.  “This was a Rotary moment for me,” he said.  But it wasn’t the first.  A year prior, he was in Lahore, Pakistan to help with Polio vaccinations.  Although they arrived too late to administer vaccinations, they went on tours of facilities
and view progress on various projects.  “Rotary was everywhere, and everyone knew who a Rotarian was,” Kees said.
Kees said he was really pushing for fellowship in Rotary, and is giving extra resources to assistant governors to push this notion of fellowship.  Debi will organize the President’s meetings about.  He also wants to make sure the smaller, struggling clubs can go to PETS, which can happen through a scholarship by other clubs.  Kees encourage the group to go to work and meet with other clubs.  “How can you get new ideas without working with other clubs?” he said.  “Think about who is going to replace you if you’re in a specific position.”  He really wants succession plans in place for clubs so that we have posterity. 
They’re looking to expand RYLA to more people.  In Nelson, BC they’re going to have a “mini-RYLA” for high school students.  Bob Carrol, the former governor, is working with others to provide an Interact District Conference, January 27-29.  The international convention will be taking place in Atlanta, the 100th anniversary of the Rotary Foundation!
Kees also wanted to make sure we were aware of the district conference, which will be held in Nakusp, in NW corner of our district.  They’re right on the Columbia river, and they have 1500 people in their community, with 18 Rotary members.  “Our Theme is ‘Come and see how big small can be’,” he said.  Kees teased that we wouldn’t know what the achievements would be of their club without being present, so we would have to come.  There is a bus that will be $80/person leaving from Tri-Cities.  They will also be celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday, along with the 100th birthday of the Rotary Foundation. 
The meeting was closed with the trading of banners between Kees and Eric.