BENDIGO has helped shape what a group of South Australian Rotarians has described as “the best conference ever”.
About 400 Rotarians from District 9500 were in Bendigo at the weekend for their annual conference, which included a presentation by Li Cunxin, who won hearts around the world with his autobiography Mao’s Last Dancer.
The conference was opened at the All Seasons Hotel on Friday and finished on Sunday.
Conference chairman Ashleigh Lorraine said the Rotarians loved Bendigo and many had proclaimed they would be back again.
“Some people were planning to extend their stays and others said they’d come back again for more of a look around,” he said.
“The conference went fantastic – that’s the best way I could describe it.
“There was a lot of positive feedback from the delegates.
“A lot of them commented that it was the best conference they’d ever been to and a lot of that was thanks to Bendigo and what Bendigo had done for them.”
Mr Lorraine said keynote speaker Li Cuxin and the story of his life growing up in poverty-stricken China – the force that drove him to become one of the best dancers in the world – was one of the conference highlights.
“Li Cunxin just blew them away,” he said. “His address was preceded by ballet school doing a special item and at the end of the performance the little girls went behind a screen on stage and came out again.
“We were thinking it was to take final bows but the last two girls had Li by the hand, leading him onto the stage.
“I can tell you there weren’t too many dry eyes in the audience.”
The Rotarians also heard from Major Matina Jewell, a retired UN peacekeeper.
“Both speakers were given standing ovations,” Mr Lorraine said.
District 9500 encompasses the city of Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, north to Alice Springs and the western half of South Australia.
There are more than 1.2 million Rotarians in 34,000 clubs in most countries of the world, working towards community health and well-being and promoting international understanding and friendship.