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8/8/2018 - Stars Dreams & Wishes from Yokohama Japan

Stars Dreams & Wishes from Yokohama Japan
Wow!  The Soroptimist International of the Americas 45th Biennial Convention was a wonderful experience for all who were able to attend.

We started off the convention on July 30, 2018 with the "Writing our Wishes" Reception where we put our good wishes on a streamer and they were hung on the Tanabata tree.  In Japan, these wishes are hung during the Tanabata, or the Star Festival, which is held on the evening of July 7. The festival traces its origins to a legend that the Cowherd Star (Altair) and Weaver Star (Vega), lovers separated by the Milky Way, are allowed to meet just once a year - on the seventh day of the seventh month. We were treated to a special guest performance by Michiko Godai, a Japanese star of stage and screen.

Past Governor Pam, Secretary Pat Eileen and Governor Sylvia at the Laurel Society event.
At that opening event, we were also welcomed by Soroptimist International of the Americas President Dawn Marie Lemonds, Soroptimist International President Mariet Verhoef-Cohen, Soroptimist International of Europe President Renata Trottmann Probst, Soroptimist International of Great Britain and Ireland President Sue Williams, and Soroptimist International of the South West Pacific President Anusha Santhirasthipam.  It was amazing that these Presidents were all in attendance throughout our convention!

On Tuesday, July 31, our General Session entitled, "We All Look at the Same Sky" started with a Salute to Nations.  SIA now has 21 nations and territories and their flags were displayed on screen while portions of their national anthems were played.  The Soroptimist International report given by SI President Mariet Verhoef-Cohen showed how the work that Soroptimists do globally directly contributes to educating, empowering and enabling women and girls to access their human rights.  We were also invited to attend the 21st Soroptimist International Convention in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to be held July 18-21, 2019. Registration is now open!

Awards were given:
Founder Region was in the limelight as SI/Benicia was announced as the Soroptimist Celebrating Success Award First Place winner in the Membership category, for their Membership Recruitment and Retention Program.

Founder Region won the Region Membership Award in the North America division for chartering 3 new clubs during the 2016-2018 Biennium.

Founder Region also won First Place for the Shaping the Future Awards in the category of Fundraising!

Immediate Past Governor Pam was thrilled and honored to accept these awards on behalf of all the members of Founder Region and SI/Benicia, and appreciative of all the work of our region board,  committee chairs and representatives, and all club officers & members.  Small actions by each club adds up to big results and is evidence of Increased Collective Impact!

There were afternoon workshops focused on our Pillars of Success for "Making Dreams a Reality", and another General Session which was entitled, "Governance Discussion", regarding the Electing the Federation Board of Directors, and Electing the President-elect Using Electronic Voting.  

Click here to review the 2018-convention-governance-briefing document issued prior to the convention

The Laurel Society Event on Tuesday evening was by invitation only for Laurel Society members, and our very own Secretary Pat Eileen Fisher was most appropriately dressed for the "Dawning of the Age of Soroptimist"!  (check out the SIA Facebook page for the video for the words to that song - and lots of other videos, too.)

On Wednesday, August 1, our General Session entitled, "Our Wishes for the Future" included a presentation by SIA Executive Director & CEO Elizabeth Lucas on "Creating Our Future:  Being the Organization We Want to Be", our Financial Report presented by SIA Secretary/Treasurer Kathy King, recognition of our 2016-2018 Governors, The Shaping the Future Awards (mentioned above), and led into our Big Goal Exercise:  SOAR to Success!  The Big Goal Exercise included workshops with small group discussions where we could collaborate to identify our strengths, opportunities, aspirations and results - SOAR.

The afternoon General Session entitled, "Reach for the Stars" was a highlight with a wonderful and inspirational speaker, Fumiko Hayashi, the Mayor of Yokohama.  I can't do justice to her story here, of how she overcame many obstacles in her personal life when her father left home when she was very young. And although it was rare for a woman in Japan to work for a car maker, she become President of BMW Tokyo and later Tokyo Nissan Auto Sales prior to becoming the Mayor of Yokohama.  Her story was very inspirational.  Fumiko Hayashi's speech was in her native language, and gave the English speakers the opportunity to experience the translation headsets.

There were more workshops and "Our Shining Stars" Recognition Banquet, where the entertainment was the World Famous Noh Theater group.  There was Recognition for Outgoing Leadership including 2016-2018 Governors, 2017-2018 SIA Board of Directors, Fundraising Council and 2017-2018 President Dawn Marie Lemonds.  Then there was Recognition for Incoming Leadership including 2018-2020 Governors, 2018-2019 Fundraising Council and 2018-2019 Board of Directors.  And the Installtion of 2018-2019 SIA President Elizabeth DiGeronimo. President Elizabeth asked us to use the hashtag: #Spotlight Soroptimist to show everything you do to support women and girls through our Dream Programs

On Thursday, August 2, our General Session entitled, "Making Dreams Come True" was a celebration with the announcement of our Live Your Dream Award recipients each receiving $25,000.00 from Club Giving, and Laurel Society donations given from members and clubs.  Our corporate sponsor Torrid Foundation gave an additional $100,000.00 to fund the Live Your Dream Award recipients travel, and accommodations in Japan and wardrobes to attend the convention!  

The SIA 2020 Convention Invitation and video was introduced to attend July 22-25, 2020 in Bellevue, WA, USA with a theme, "Reaching New Heights".  And our "Bright Past, Brilliant Future" will be celebrated October 1-3, 2021 on our 100th Anniversary,  at the Fairmont San Francisco which was the site of the 1st Soroptimist Convention held there in 1927.
As it was time to bid farewell, the Dragon Dance performance brought the convention to a close.

Many presentations are already being uploaded to the SIA website.  Take the opportunity to gain more insight into this experience.  Click here to go to the Convention resources.

2018-2020 Governors Introduced
2018-2020 Governors Introduced
2016-2018 Governors' Recognition
2016-2018 Governors' Recognition

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