From June 6 through 9, 2015, more than 14,500 Rotarians converged in São Paulo, Brazil to attend the 106th Rotary International Convention in one of the largest and most diverse cities of the world.

Like the city itself, the São Paulo convention brought together people from around the world who were eager to celebrate and share their backgrounds and be inspired by the work taking place to improve the quality of life worldwide.
Keynote speakers ranged from some of the most accomplished to the youngest ever to address a Rotary crowd.
One rising star was seven-year-old Lucia Gómez Garcia from District 4895 in Argentina who climbed upon the massive lectern, barely able to reach the microphone. As the massive crowd held its collective breath, she gazed out and, after a brief pause, launched into a powerful message: You Are Never Too Young to Change the World. Speaking in English as a second language, her young and confident voice assured her audience that even children can do great things.

She proclaimed that kids are clear, spontaneous, and tell the truth. They are eager to play with other children and do not care about the color of their skin, their religion, or the social status of their families.

“We are little children ready to do big things,” proclaimed Garcia. Rotarians rose to their feet and gave her a standing ovation.

The following day, Nobel Peace Laureate and Former President of Costa Rica, Dr. Óscar Arias, reminded the crowd of the words of Rotary Founder Paul Harris: “The most virtuous war is the war against war.”

To win the war against war, Arias declared that we must focus strongly on winning the war against poverty. “Poverty needs no passport to travel,” he said. It can appear anywhere. In the war for peace, we are the soldiers and our battlefield is the entire planet.

Reminding his audience of the importance of the concept of “community” and the connectedness of our planet, he proclaimed, “We will never secure security for our own people until we secure security for all people.”

Each day, Rotarians streamed out of the plenary sessions into the House of Friendship to learn about resources available to them and to attend focused breakout sessions.

After four days, just as convention attendees had gathered from distant places, they returned to the far corners of the earth – now having been reminded by Rotary Foundation Chair and Past RI President John Kenny of the words of Martin Luther King, “Everybody can be great because everyone can serve.” The strength of Rotary is in our hands.