PP Suresh has inducted a new generation of NKRC members , those that joined in 2012 become friends after they have joined Rotaract, and still cling to each other today, Shawna , Sheena Taylor, Sean, Nasharie, President Terence ( Trudy Will, Vivette (PP Travis) to name a few . He highlights that you need to be ready for a role while here in NKRC and be able to multitask in Posts.
Guest Speaker Yanique Barrett
What do you remember about your first days in Rotaract?
PP Suresh: … because Rotaract in my year or back then was a different Rotaract based on what I’m seeing now. (In)my Rotaract year the club was pretty much dying, we only had about 6 or so active members and 6 was a lot then. So, most persons actually had multiple positions. So one person would be VP as well as Sarge or Community Service Director as well as Treasurer. So, it was like a crack team, everybody had to do everything and pull their weight and that’s how I came about into Rotaract. Past President Neville Graham, we were friends from high school, and he was the one that said, ‘You know what, come to Rotaract, you know, offer your services.’ But he was selling it as a place to network. So I don’t think the whole aspect of community service [came about] until being (I was in) in Rotaract for a good 3 months. So yeah, that’s how I started off, I started off for networking purposes. And I think that was around 2009, yeah March 2009 when I went to my first meeting for NKRC.
Which year were you inducted and who was the president at the time?
PP Suresh: Joining Rotaract within the first 3 meetings I was inducted. Because they didn’t have much members. So that’s the thing, I joined (got inducted) in March, PP Julie Ramshandani was president at the time. (PP Neville Graham was VP Elect) so in July it would hand over to PP Neville and because there wasn’t any members, as I said before, I automatically became Treasurer. So now we had to work and go on committees, everything was just fast tracked.
When did you decide you wanted to become president?
PP Suresh: Never really had a choice, same thing again (the club was small and had limited members to fill necessary roles), It was PP Neville who tried to grow the club so he invited myself and other friends from high school and University and I guess because I would have been somewhat senior compared to the others. You had PP Garth Burrows who would have been VP at that time and because there was no one else (competent enough) to be VP, I became VP. And VP automatically changes from VP to President. So we just groomed everyone from early (on). This is where the club is going so you need to be this person, you need to be that person. You saw the value of it, and yeah networking was apart of it and everything just fell into place.
What other roles did you play in the club and how was the experience?
PP Suresh: So I was Treasurer then VP then President.
Follow up Question: I know you said the club was small and at times members had to play multiple role, did you have to fill dual roles whilst on the Board of the Club?
PP Suresh: Well as VP, I had to be on everybody’s board (committee). I had to be on Community Service, Professional (Development) Service (and) Public Relations because we never had much members. I think that has enabled me to better understand my Presidency because you know what we expected, back then, and you had a feel of what each committee wanted and where it needed to go. So, I think that is why our (Rotaract) system of VP automatically becoming President work hand in hand. You have one year to learn the things and your President year to apply what you have learnt. So you’re not really bombarded and overwhelmed by the things that are required of you.
Where was your installation held and how was it?
PP Suresh: My installation was held at Rotaractor Sheeka’s house. We were trying to save because most people at that time, not just us but other clubs, they were going the route of hotels and getting a package. As you know all installations occur at the same time so we were trying to cut cost to allow other persons to support us and to enable our members to support the other clubs. So it was like a poolside garden theme installation. It was actually a nice one.
What was the hardest part of being president? (state when you became)
PP Suresh: I became President in 2011. The hardest thing is pleasing everybody. That’s the issue I had. Everybody had strong views, passionate about Rotaract on a hold and you were just the one being the mediator for everyone. And it was a very difficult line to draw between being friend and leader for everybody. And that created a lot of conflict within the club; and I’m sure this is something that every President has gone through. Trying to have synergy with everybody, trying to achieve the objectives and goals, not because they are difficult but because of the various personalities, as mentioned before. Some may feel as if one person isn’t doing it correctly or one person is getting too much attention or maybe their idea they don’t see as important in growth of the club. So it’s not a matter of NKRC anymore (but) cliques start to develop. Persons trying to underhand the other, trying to out-do each other. Trying to disrupt the club on a whole (He stated that it’s something that he not only experienced in his year but observed in other members Presidency.)You just have to put down your foot eand try to see what the best thing for the club on a whole. (I think we can overcome this conflict if) people respect the position and not the person for the whole benefit of the organization.
What project did you find especially engaging/ interesting to work on?
PP Suresh: My year we had a lot of projects. We used to volunteer at Saxthorpe Missonary [Methodist] Church to help with adult literacy. So we probably teach the students basic Math and English that was a project we have always been apart of. The project we tried to finalize was building a computer lab for the Homestead Place of Safety for Girls’. So we were able to get computers, get it networked, with internet and what not. Just make it a nice study area for the girls (be)cause they didn’t have anything like that. They didn’t have computers or typewriters at that point in time.
Typewriters? : Yes typewriters to practice Office Procedures or anything business related so they could probably learn typing.
So we got computers, a little room that we secured and just made it available for them.
(I informed PP Suresh that JFLL was a project we are still involved in. He was happy to know that we maintained a constant presence with the organization.) The adults really appreciate us going there.
What was membership like then in terms of numbers and activities?
(PP Suresh had touched on it before that the membership was relatively small and there weren’t many active members)
PP Suresh: Well we were in a lot of activities. The first one I remembered was helping with GSAT preparations or students at Swallowfield Church. This was a Saturday activity. We also, teach GSAT level students Math (and) English and provide lunch to all of them as well. The other was JFLL. Homestead, yes we used to visit Homestead quite a few times. We used to have Career Day, as well as movie days, Christmas Treats, Summer Treats as well. We used to spend a lot of time with the Homestead Place of Safety. Of course you have the regular activities we’d take part in: Labour Day projects, painting activities (and) beautification. I remember one activity we did was beautification of Duhaney Park’s Community Centre. And we partnered with other clubs.
We had trips, professional development trips. That’s when we started the whole Appleton Trip, we started that in my year. We also started Survivor, it was started in PP Garnett’s year and continued in my year. That was good it helped to build camaraderie with persons.
How many members were inducted in your year?
PP Suresh: I think nine (9) members, well nine there about. It was supposed to be fourteen but they never completed so they were inducted in the next Rotaract year.
How did you manage Rotaract, work and personal life?
PP Suresh: A lot of things had to go on the backburner. It was very consuming. I used to do a lot of things before Rotaract and I had to put them back. I used to go diving, I used to go hiking, I used to go out a lot but Rotaract became intertwined with everything else. So probably going out it wouldn’t be just friends only, it would be Rotaractors/ friends, going to the beach, Rotaractors/friends. So, I wasn’t difficult to strike a balance. I think that’s why I haven’t transitioned over to Rotary as yet. I kinda want some time to myself because after leaving (my) presidency I was District Treasurer that again took up time. And this is the one clear year without doing anything Rotaract. I gave up District Treasurer last Conference.
So you weren’t loud or big personality, you were more somber? : Yeah. The thing about it though when it comes on to this question I think its best you ask members who were in my year. (He noted that we are apt to recall negative interactions and may use that as the general consensus of the group and stated the other members would be better able to describe his personality. He was put in position that he had to make difficult decisions that were far from his personality so for that he see himself at the other extreme of the spectrum as ‘tyrannical’.) … I see myself as a person who is easy going, and wants everyone to have a knowledge and understanding of what’s going on.
One year later, how has life been since Rotaract? (for those who aged out)
PP Suresh: It has been great, (chuckles). I think because I’ve been in there (Rotaract) for so long you had the feeling of being burnt out. As you said, Rotaract is not just first and third Thursdays. It is really every day, every weekend gone, every weekday gone, it can be very consuming. I can actually sleep in later on a Saturday, I’ve missed that. (Usual NKRC Saturday) there is an activity, then after the activity you meet up for food, you lyme then late in the night you might have something else. Then Sunday you might have board meetings.
If you could do any project in the world what would it be and why?
PP Suresh: Any project in the world? Well, I think I would want to create my own project. In primary school we would do this course called ‘Civics’. I don’t think it’s taught in schools anymore. And I (have) realize(d)the way Jamaica is going, certain things that one would expect from our citizens, it is not the case. So I don’t know if it’s just persons views or persons aren’t taught certain things; this came about because of the whole promotion of ‘Don’t Dutty Up Jamaica’. And I’m saying to myself, in this day and age we are really spending money on media promotions to tell people how to clean their surroundings. I think instead of probably focusing on the world, we should focus on what we have here in Jamaica. It would be an education programme. I don’t know if it would be fruitful but at least to say well this has been applied. If it works, excellent, if not, then something else has to be done. Something is missing when it comes on to us as Jamaicans. It has sparked also with Riverton as well things like this. Cleanliness, civic pride, value as citizens. We need to try and reclaim it, if not reclaim it someone has to teach it. And I think that is something I want to be apart of. And I would start from the kids, well I’m sure the kids are learning it but it’s going missing along the way, with them transitioning from kids to adults. So it’s not really a world project but a home project that I think would benefit us as human beings and as Jamaicans. It’s good that we’re helping our fellow man on a global level but it would be good also that we focus on home, as well. The issues we are having in the healthcare, Sickle Cell, Diabetes and Hypertension we could focus on that.
We (members of NKRC during his presidency) started an Autism Awareness (campaign) during my year (as president). We used to work with JASA. I don’t know if you guys still do that. (We focused on) the awareness of autism (and) the growing numbers in Jamaica. It doesn’t have to be a big project. Just something that applies to Jamaica and builds Jamaica.
How has NKRC impacted your life?
PP Suresh: I think the main thing that resonates with me, (as it pertains to) the impact of NKRC its understanding or having more empathy towards persons feelings. In growing up, of course the person you interacted with would be persons you chose to be around, friends, of course your family and NKRC you don’t really have that choice. (NKRC) it’s a service club, so everyone is just thrown in there as a mix and because of the common goal that you’re trying to achieve you have to deal with every individual. And then you still have to be aware that your views, not to be cocky or insensitive but because it’s your view you may feel it’s the right view, which is not necessarily the case. It has taught me to have a greater understanding of human beings. Their views, their feelings, their desires, their ambitions and I think what I’ve learnt, or (better yet) what I’ve observed, these are people you will experience in your years to come. I haven’t been able to experience this in my job. With my job my employees and my colleagues, we are small nit group, we haven’t had any conflicts. So, I wasn’t able to learn that there. So I think it (my NKRC experience) has made me a better person when it comes on to understanding human emotions as well as trying to understand mine. So I thinks that’s the way NKRC came into play for me.
Follow up question. So you had a lot of personal growth…? :
PP Suresh: You wanted the club to go in a particular direction, if let’s say someone had a certain view and it may not work into the whole scheme of things. Because each club has their budget each club, I mean board has their vision and you didn’t want to stifle anybody’s opinions either because NKRC was a place for them to grow. Some persons may not have had that in their previous years and this is a place where they would have been comfortable. … Do you know (Rtr.) Ana? (PP Suresh was informed that Rtr. Ana was to be the assistant District PR on the 2015-2016 District 7020 board). Rtr. Ana has been the most dedicated NKRC member EVER! Ana does not interact readily with member of NKRC, so NKRC is her place to grow, so it affords you the opportunity to help (Rtr.) Ana to become the individual that she wants to become.
So what advice you have for a Secretary?
PP Suresh: Try not to get overwhelmed, first and foremost. I recommend that you have a relationship with your PR director. Because the PR or you may do things contrary to what you (or them) are trying to achieve. To avoid conflict always have constant dialogue with the other. Try to establish who will control the Facebook page, Twitter and social media pages. And ensure that everyone gives you things on time.
…Try and find your own self in the position. Do not be overshadowed. If it works for you it works. As long as it gets the job done. As long as it’s effective in fulfilling the goals of NKRC. …So nothing is hard and fast.