An Historic PETS 
By any measure this year’s Presidents Elect Training Seminar was historic.  We’ll start with appearance of Jennifer Jones, the first woman president of Rotary International in its 117-year existence.  It was the first time for District 5000 from Hawaii to join Southwest PETS.  The other districts in attendance were: 5320, Orange County; 5280, Los Angeles; 5330, Riverside; 5495, Greater Arizona; 5240, Santa Barbara; 5300, Pasadena; 5500, Tucson; and, of course, 5340 from San Diego and Imperial County. It was the first time in two years that PETS was in person.  It was held at the LAX Marriott hotel.  There were over 350 presidents elect getting ready to lead our clubs.  
We had a signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with District 4100.  District 4100 includes Baja California, Baja Sur, Sonora and Sinaloa.   The MOU was signed by the Governor lines of 4100, 5320, 5330, 5340 and 5495.  More on that below.
PETS is designed to educate and train presidents elect to lead their club in the upcoming Rotary year that begins July 1st.  There are plenary sessions with keynote speakers during the meals.  These speakers are top drawer, informing and inspiring us to do great things in our community, the world and in ourselves.  Between the plenary sessions are core classes that the presidents attend.  The core classes this year focused on increasing our impact, expanding our reach, enhancing participant engagement and increasing our ability to adapt. 
There are elective courses as well.  All these sessions are intellectually stimulating sparking many great ideas and suggestions to help shape a president’s vision for the club.
The evening concludes with each district hosting all participants while enjoying the fellowship with after dinner drinks.  The presidents connect with their classmates to make plans concerning projects, socials and speakers for the upcoming year. 
I have to say, the energy and enthusiasm of this year’s PETS (my 10th PETS in a row) was off the charts.  People were so happy to be in person and so excited to lead their clubs as we are coming back to in person meetings.  There was a constant buzz in the hallways as people greeted each other, picked over vendor items and got caught up with old friends.  If this is a sign of things to come, we are in for a great year.
PETS started Friday morning with Jordan Harrison of Club 33 as the keynote speaker.  Jordan spoke about diversity, equity and inclusion.  He was animated and charismatic in his presentation.  The people loved him and his message.  Jordan earned a rousing standing ovation at the end.  What a great way to start the weekend.  Jordan stayed after to talk with many people who wanted to learn more.
During the day on Friday, I received a number of emails and text messages asking what Rotary’s response would be to Russia invading Ukraine.  I responded to those emails and texts as I did to the classes I was teaching that RI was meeting virtually and a response would be coming shortly.
On Saturday afternoon our presidents had a three-hour session with Governor Elect Chuck Pretto of Club 33.  Chuck had the presidents sit together by Area.  For instance, the presidents of Club 33, Downtown Breakfast, Coronado and Point Loma sat together getting to know each other as they begin this journey together.
Saturday night, RI Director Vicki Puliz read the following statement from RI on the Russian/Ukraine situation:
“It is a tragic and sad time for the people of Ukraine and the world.  At Rotary, we are deeply concerned by the deteriorating situation in Ukraine and the escalating loss of life and humanitarian hardship there.  Continued military action against Ukraine will not only devastate the region, but also risk spreading tragic consequences across Europe and the world.
As one of the world’s largest humanitarian organizations, we have made peace the cornerstone of our global mission.  We join the international community in calling for an immediate cease fire, withdrawal of Russian forces, and a restoration of diploorts to rematic effsolve this conflict through dialogue. 

In the past decade, Rotary clubs in Ukraine, Russia and nearby countries have transcended national differences and have actively engaged in peace-building projects to promote goodwill and to marshal assistance for the victims of war and y Inviolence. Today, our thoughts are with our fellow Rotary members and others in Ukraine coping with these tragic events. Rotarternational will do everything in its power to bring aid, support and peace to the region."
Historic to say the least.
Sunday morning was a monumental day for all of us.  A year-and-a-half, I started having monthly Zoom meetings with District 4100 Governor Guillermo Nava.  Fernanda Torres, president-elect of the San Diego Coastal Club, and Carlos Carrillo, the International Chair from District 4100, served as translators.
After our first meeting, the Governor lines of our District and 4100 joined.  The month after that, the Governor lines of District 5320 (Orange County), District 5330 (Riverside) and District 5495 (Greater Arizona) joined as well.  During the pandemic, this alliance was forged.
The idea was to build partnerships and collaboration on Rotary Projects between our communities.  We would also share in programs such as Model UN, RYLA and Rotary Kids.  We would create and develop Sister Clubs between our Districts.  The Tecate Home Build of six homes in December was the first project between our Districts.
So, on Sunday morning, a memorandum of understanding between all these Districts was signed.  District 4100 Governor Octavio Sanchez was in person to sign the MOU, along with the governor lines of 5340, 5320, 5330 and 5495.
Witnessing the signing was RI President Elect Jennifer Jones, RI Director Vicki Puliz and Past RI Director Johrita Solari.  Jennifer Jones spoke to us about the significance of this historic signing as being representative of the high values that Rotary exemplifies by doing good in the world to bring about peace and cooperation.
It was an amazing experience.  Jennifer Jones then returned a little later to speak with our Presidents about her theme for the next Rotary year - Imagine.  Jennifer commissioned her brother, a renowned artist out of Chicago, to make a painting of the theme, Imagine.  The painting forms the basis of the official Rotary scarf for the upcoming year.  She told her Rotary story and took a few questions.
From there it was on to the banquet room for the closing plenary session.  The first woman president of Rotary held sway with those assembled.  Jennifer has an easy, natural way about her.  She is very personable and charming.  And, more than that, she makes a great case for Rotary and being in Rotary.  This was Jennifer’s second PETS appearance.  She was in top form and looking forward to making more in person visits in the days and months ahead.
Yes, this was an historic PETS on many levels.  Those of us fortunate enough to be there will never forget it.
Top Photo:  L to R :  DG Dan Gensler District 5340, DGE Kevin Pitts from District 5495, PDG Gianna Richards District 5320, PDG Elizabeth Mahoney District 5495, DG Octavio Sanchez District 4100, PDG Steven Weitzen District 5340, Past RI Director Johrita Solari, RI President Elect Jennifer Jones, RI Director Vicki Puliz, DGE Chuck Pretto District 5340, DG Dan Goodrich District 5330, DG Cisca Stellhorn District 5320, and DGE Dan Ouweleen District 5320.