Istanbul 2012

15th INTERNATIONAL INNER WHEEL CONVENTION

ISTANBUL, TURKEY, 17-21 APRIL 2012

 

Convention Report by Janice Quinn (Coalville)

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This was the first Inner Wheel Convention that I have ever attended and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.  That doesn't mean to say however that everything was totally to my satisfaction - as you will read - but I'm so pleased I went.

I travelled with Dorothy Watson from the Shepshed Club and we went to Istanbul for five nights.

Dorothy and I started our trip at 9.30am on Tuesday the 17th of April 2012.  Although we were not flying until 4.00pm Mike (my husband) had a meeting in the afternoon which meant we had to start out early for Manchester.  However Dorothy and I didn’t mind one bit after all a holiday always starts when you close your front door.   We arrived at the airport around 11.00am and headed for the nearest  coffee bar as we couldn’t check in yet.   The time soon passed and we were able to be one of the first to go through to the departure lounge.  We wandered around the shops and duty free and then made our way to the 
restaurant for a spot of lunch.

This was where we met up with the rest of our District, there were about alt20 of them all travelling together as they were going on a tour of Turkey after the Convention.

Once again the time just flew and we were soon boarding.  The flight took around 4 hours and we were served a very passable meal which we tucked into to as we knew we would not be eating again that day.  We landed at around 10pm ( Turkey are a couple of hours ahead of us) and then queued for a visa which consisted of a postage stamp stuck into our passport and cost us 10 English pounds each.  Mmm..... we’ll say no more about that!!

As we were waiting at immigration I heard my name called on the intercom but after an initial panic I realised that it was from our transit taxi.  Sure enough when we walked out of the arrival lounge a man was standing holding a card with my name on so we were very relieved that had worked.  Once in the taxi we had our first sight of Istanbul and what a sight it was.  Everything that could be lit up was and the Mosques looked amazing.

Our hotel was great and our room although compact had everything that we would need - well almost.  altAfter we had unpacked I said to Dorothy that I would just love a cup of tea and Dorothy knowing there were no tea making facilities in the room unpacked a small kettle, opened a box containing tea, coffee, sugar and powdered milk and proceeded to make altme a lovely cup of tea.  What a travelling companion she is, I was always in the right place at the right time and having a great time too, I am so grateful to her.  That wasn’t the only surprise that evening we also had two Turkish men in our room at 12.30am!!   Dorothy wanted to put our passports and money in the safe in our room but it was already locked so I rang down to reception for the number to open it.  However the receptionist didn’t tell me she just sent two young men to open it for us instead.  Having already undressed I hastily put a top over my nightdress  - well that's my story and I’m sticking to it!!!!!!

Next morning (Weds) after a super breakfast we made our way down to the Convention centre and registered.  We also collected our very important voting papers and I made sure that I had them in a safe place because without them you could not vote.   The registration desk was very well run with officials on altall four sides but the same could not be said at the Gala Dinner Table.  It would appear that in past years members were not happy with their place settings i.e. who they were sitting with!!!  So this year we had to go to a special desk to book our table for the Gala dinner.  The queues were horrendous and some ladies queued for two hours.  Dorothy and I just kept our eye on the queue each time we entered the Convention Centre and it wasn't until the third day we were able to book our place.  This didn't even go according to plan as some ladies would arrive at their allocated table only to find other ladies sitting in their places.  Fortunately there was plenty of seating but I don't think the organisers will be doing this again!!

After we had registered we walked down to the Bosphorus and found a little coffee shop at the waters edge where we were able to people watch - as you do!  The sun was shining and it was quite a bit warmer than at home so really enjoyable.   After lunch in the town we went back to the Convention Centre to board a bus for our ‘Two Continents’ tour.  This took us from the European side of Istanbul to the Asian side.  Not a lot of difference to the eye or to the running of the country but a new continent has to start somewhere and the Bosphorus was the dividing line.

altThe Bosphorous bridge was very impressive and the views were amazing.  Istanbul buildings are pretty much built with the same light coloured stone and the city rises up each side of the river giving a great aspect.  Everywhere blended in and the mosques looked like they belonged  - they were not multi coloured or flashy  like some mosques you see in other countries - in fact they were quite beautiful.

We stopped at the Beylerbeyi Palace where we were given a guided tour.  The palace was built in 1861 and one of it’s aims was to show European countries that Turkey was prosperous and many Heads of State were invited to stay.

It was a very impressive building and the Chandeliers were stunning. alt The Bosphorus Bridge which was completed in 1973 clearly shows the old and the new together and at some angles it almost appears as though the bridge is resting on the palace.    Another sight that was quite spectacular was the traffic along  the Bosphorus, while we were at the palace quite a few oil tankers  went past as the picture shows.

Also on the tour we were told about the life of a Sultan and his harem.  A harem consists of all the ladies living with the Sultan whether they be wives or concubines and the Sultans 
mother is second in command so to speak so she has great 
authority.  The Sultan has only four wives and a concubine can become a wife when an existing wife dies but she must have 
produced the Sultan with a son first.  Sounds quite like an 
Honorary I.W. Member, minus the son!!!!!

Wednesday evening saw us back at the Convention Centre for the banner exchange.  Dorothy and I had no idea what format this woualtld take, whether it would be formal or not and members we asked didn’t know either.  But then one lady told us it was a free for all, if someone liked your banner they would swap with you.  Well - I had no banners and Dorothy only had one but we did have bookmarks and tea bag gifts to hand out so we went along armed with these to see what it was all about.   Well..... what can I say, we had a magic couple of hours and we came away with banners and gifts as everyone had liked ours.  We carried on giving ours out over the next couple of days which gave us the opportunity to speak to many ladies from different countries.

This picture shows the ladies from Nigeria.  They looked      alt
amazing, each day they would appear in a different costume in lovely vibrant colours but this one was my favourite.  The head dress was a long piece of starched fabric which was twisted and turned around the head to give it’s full effect.

We all wore our GB & I scarves each day as did most of the ladies in GB & I and I must admit it helped for easy identification which then helped with easy conversations.  

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Here’s Dorothy and I proudly wearing ours.   Dorothy is  also sporting the Convention bag that each member received on registering.

 

 

 

 

And so to the Convention (at last I hear you say) which started on Thursday morning at 9.00am.   The convention started with young school children singing the peace song - ‘A piece of peace, a piece of peace, a piece of peace is just enough’ very catchy and you were soon singing along.  The next hour or so  mainly consisted of  greetings from the Local Convention Committee, the Convention Coordinator , the Minister of Tourism and Culture, the Governor of Istanbul, the Rotary District Governor and the opening speech from the International Inner Wheel President Catherine Rafabert.  I have to altsay by this time we were rather greeted out but I also have to say that Catherine Rafabert was excellent throughout the whole Convention.  She was clear, precise and to the point which was much  appreciated as the Convention progressed.

The morning session ended with an excellent speaker and also a 
concert by Artists of the Izmir State Symphony Orchestra playing  ‘Mozart to Haydn’. The subject matter of the speaker Tugba Kalafatoglu however was strange for a Convention - so I thought anyway.  Her talk was on speech and body language and it was the sort of thing you would have at a management training session.  She was also pushed for time and so rushed a lot which didn’t help but I can imagine she was very good at her job and she certainly had great qualifications.  Personally after sitting through all the greetings I didn’t think this talk was needed - I hope my body language didn’t show this!

After lunch the best bit started - the business sessions.   The first four were resolutions submitted for ratification.  This meant that issues such as buying the new I.I.W building had already been carried out and just needed our approval.  They were all carried but it did make me wonder what would have happened if they hadn’t!

And so to the 42 proposals - I shall not go through each one individually as some were just word changes to the Constitution however if you wish to see them all please go to the International Inner Wheel Website which has been re-designed and is excellent.       The first proposal that caused great interest and debate was proposal 5  ‘To reduce the number of Board Directors from 16 to 8’  The governing body brought forward this proposal to improve efficiency and provide a more manageable working committee both practically and financially.  There was also an amendment to this proposal to reduce from 16 to 12 and this needed to be voted on first.  After a great discussion from the floor both proposals were lost and 16 Board Directors remain.

Both Dorothy and I voted against this proposal for our clubs as instructed, we did not feel any of the arguments justified reducing the number of board directors to such a small number for such a large organisation.

I’ll just digress at this point to let you know that  48 countries were represented at the Convention with over 2000 delegates attending,   International Inner Wheel has over 100,000 members in 103 countries and during the opening ceremony they showed a map of the world which featured a flag for each country showing how many districts and members each Country had - this was very moving.    There was an audible gasp when it was shown that India had over 27’000 members quite a lot more than GB & I and they are still growing.

Back to the proposals - it was also interesting that 2/3rd's  of the vote had to be inalt favour or the vote was lost and some were lost in this way.  Proposal 15 was a prime example - changing the word ‘Honorary to Associate member’.  There were 1475 votes for but 1467 votes against so it was lost.  But this proposal became irrelevant with PROPOSAL 17.  
There was a distinct buzz around the arena when this proposal was raised, but first we had to discuss and vote on the amendment that 51% of members in a club should have Rotary or Inner wheel connections.  This was virtually lost when a lady stood up and asked what happened to the 49% if one or two members left from the 51% side.   You couldn’t ask some to leave so the amendment was lost and we moved on to the main proposal.  This was electric - there were so many altladies wanting to speak and I have to say the ladies from India were very generous because although they didn’t need to change the rules they realised we did and that had been one of our main concerns.  In the end I.I.W President Catherine had to ask if anyone wanted to speak against the proposal which they didn’t and so we had the vote.  As agreed with our clubs Dorothy and I voted for the motion.    
While the votes were being counted we carried on with the other proposals.

There was only one proposal that we voted for and it was lost due to the 2/3rd’s rule and that was Proposal 18 that would allow a new club to form with 10 members instead of 12.   The vote for was 1699 with 1208 against which was a shame as we have had clubs in our district that have gone down to 10 members and they have survived very well.
But then the moment we had all been waiting for came and the result for Proposal 17 was given.  The vote for the proposal was 2690 votes with 257 against so the motion was 
carried.  The auditorium went crazy, everyone stood cheering and clapping . alt I.I.W President Catherine had a beaming face with tears in her eyes, she had worked so hard during her year supporting this proposal and it was just a magic moment - it was great to be there.

After the euphoria we carried on with the proposals.     All of the general motions were carried but I was not altogether happy with these as they gave the governing bodies more power to make small changes to the constitution through review committees  - but who decides what is considered small?- only the future will tell!  Also a motion wanted permission to review the structure of the Convention particularly the business side to reduce the time spent discussing proposals and have more time for seminars and workshops etc but personally I thought the business sessions were amazing, being able to take part by voting even for small issues made it all worth while and you felt you were making a difference.  However I have to agree that giving your voting delegate discretion is a must and although I didn't need it this time I was glad my club had given it to me.  Listening to all the arguments for and against each proposal really does make a difference.

And so the business sessions were over, Dorothy and I had sat for two days giving our full attention to all proposals and although we thoroughly enjoyed it all we were mentally shattered so we left the auditorium for a well earned break.  This meant we missed the reports from the seminars that had been held in sessions prior to the start of Convention.  Dorothy and I had not attended any of these and although we did receive some negative feedback from ladies who did attend I wouldn’t like to comment further on this.
In between the sessions we had a reception evening on the Thursday. alt It was held at the ‘1001 Columns Cistern’ .  This was an amazing place that had been in disrepair but was recently opened as a restaurant with cafes and bars.  There were only actually 224 columns, I didn’t count them - someone kindly informed me of this.   It was quite dark inside but fascinating.  Waiters brought wine and food around on trays, there was more wine than food and so after about an hour Dorothy and I staggered out to find a more substantial meal.      We had found a couple of excellent restaurants where we went for lunch and evening meals at a very reasonable rate - in fact we found the Turkish lira very good all round.  In between the business sessions we didn’t always have time to go back to the hotel to change although we were only a 15 minute walk away but we also spotted this lovely little cafe in the local park and one or two other 
members including our Association President Phyllis Charter were also there so we had plenty of opportunity to chat about the days sessions.
altFriday evening was the gala evening at the Convention centre.  The room was huge but then it had to be to accommodate us all.  We had a three course meal followed by a fashion show and ended with dancing.  Dorothy and I were sporting our boa’s in Inner Wheel colours and we danced the night away.

And now to the closing ceremony (Sat) which I had thought would be a moving occasion but I’m afraid that on the whole it was a bit of a let down.    As you are probably aware Inner Wheel has two representatives on United Nations Committees and these ladies were to give a talk on their duties.  I was really looking forward to this but unfortunately it was a great disappointment.  I had hoped they would give a more personal presentation on working with the UN but this turned out to be a more formal presentation and each lady spoke for about 45alt minutes each on the work of the UN  - quite a lot we were already aware of.  The audience became very restless.  I found my self becoming quite drowsy after all we had just had lunch!   Falling asleep sitting up is something I never do but I was really worried this was going to be the case and so I needed something to stop this happening.  Suddenly I had a  thought  - I started to count all the other people that had altdropped off and there were quite a few.  I nudged Dorothy which was just as well because she said she felt herself going.  Anyway apart from the snoozers we saw one man with a suduko tucked into his program and also a couple of people with  I-pads and that was just in the area around us.  In the end I’m afraid people started to have conversations and the final embarrassment was a slow hand clap.  Unfortunately anyone after this was on a losing battle.
Six young ladies gave a seven minute presentation on the headings: Why do I believe in IIW? Why did I choose to join IIW ?  What can I offer to IIW? What I expect from IIW?   The first girl spoke very well but you also realised we had to sit through five more of them but actually they were very good and they started to improve the afternoon.
The next International Special Project is that each Country  can fund raise for their own charity rather than collecting money for a specific common charity as it was done before.  The last special project had been a disappointment with the funds raised and so we shall now work under our own umbrella , each country will be able to choose its international social project but on a common theme :alt
GIVING CHILDREN A BETTER LIFE

The logo  on the right is for use on any of our stationery for invitations etc..

A new date for our diaries is the 21st of September - United Nations Interenational Day of Peace.  This motion was passed for Inner Wheel to mark this day as they sees fit.

On our last evening we met up with the rest of District 7  before they went on their tour around Turkey and we all had a meal at a nearby hotel.

alt After breakfast the next morning Dorothy and I had a last look around Taksim Square.  Although we didn’t get the opportunity to do all of the tours and visit the lovely mosques as some of the non voting delegates did, we felt as though  we had had a real feel for the city and I wouldn’t have wanted to forgo the business sessions for anything.  Everyone  in the town was really friendly, we had some nice moments with the staff in our special little cafe in the park and also great fun in the nut shop where the proprietor gave us plenty of tastings and vacuum packed our purchases to take home.

And so we came to the end of our trip to Istanbul.  In three years the 
Convention will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark.  There was a lovely  presentation altfrom the delegates of  Denmark and it looks very inviting but it is also a very expensive country  so I will have to start saving now. 
I would definitely go again even though there were parts of the Convention that were a disappointment but the fellowship and friendship were second to none and I’m so pleased I went.  
English was spoken at all times and whilst I appreciate the 
business sessions had to be in this language I thought it was a shame that speakers with prepared speeches also had to speak in English.  They had to concentrate so much that they were unable to express themselves as they would have done in their own language.  We could easily have had the translation on the screen for us to read and anyway  it’s nice to hear some different  
languages.  Some ladies had translation headphones throughout the Convention.
There is a possibility that Denmark would be the last Convention I would attend if certain changes happen in the future.  Having to hand over voting rights to a District  Chairman or a National Representative for our club would not inspire me to go.  Sitting in the business sessions and taking part in the proceedings was the best bit for me so I hope the governing body do not want to make too many changes to this.  Yes - seeing more of the country would be nice but I think I would go for a few extra days next time to achieve this.
Our trip home was very uneventful - Dorothy and I managed to taste many varieties ofalt Turkish Delight that were available at the airport but not too many to spoil our in flight meal which again was very good.

 

THE END OF A VERY MEMORABLE TRIP

2012 Inner Wheel Distict 7 Istanbul 2012.