From the beginning, i’ve been told we were declining. Or, more precisely, that after decades of stability we’ve been declining… and were now stable again. When I came to Rotaract it was said we are 400 people involved in France. Then maybe 500 next year, or around 350… Well, i’ve heard numbers.
Then one day, I’ve decided to know more than urban legends about that. Here is the story.
I’ve met former rotaractors from time to time. First bad tickle. The older were these guys, the bigger they told me rotaract was in France… before. See that ? The more you look in the past, the more we were… which means : the higherwe’ve been falling from. You can say “but why didn’t you do something ?”. Actually, there were no specified number, no evidence ; we rotaractors were busy enough with our day-to-day club activities, so we all deal with that, this is history for us.
When I was club and district president 2 years along, I did not attend european convention or any other international event. And I missed that : exchanging with other rotaractors from all over the world, talking about tips, recruitment, motivation… hmm… partying ! The European Convention in London went (May 2008), and I finally attended it (was great !). I got shocked. Under your sight, you could see 950 rotaractors from Europe and more, including 200 germans. I realized that we were soooooo little in France. That we had a problem ! Healthy Rotaract in countries comparable to us are way bigger : german rotaractors are 3000 while Italians are 5500. Then, the question comes tickle my mind : why are we that little, again ?
Don’t misunderstand me : everyone in french Rotaract has looked for solutions, at local, regional, or national level, we were all trying. But, hey, nobody –as far as I know- had any clue about the original cause of the problem. Of course, I’ve heard many possible reasons. So, I’ve tried from time to time to double check these facts. Global humanitarian involvement crisis in France ? A friend of mine working in national management of Secours Populaire (another non-profit organisation) told me he never heard of that, nor see the effects. Exit involvment crisis. Economical crisis ? So what ? We french people talk about economical crisis for more than twenty years, and our Rotaract crisis is not that long, and seems more regular that economics. Plus, we give time to Rotaract, not money !
There was that last one : the mysterious french exception (rational, right ?). It’s when talking to other country representatives that I came to the conclusion that all these reasons were wrong. We are not that different, other countries also have some of the mentionned factor, and never went into anything comparable. Not even one of these factor was able to explain such a fall. Not even a combination of them.
After four years without proper answers, i realized i will probably leave Rotaract without ever knowing why we were declining.
I want to know. Why the Rotaract in France has been declining for 15 years from now. I. Want. To. Know.
I’ve told my friends I felt the need to rest after that last year, because I’ve been deeply involved into my district representative role. Considering personal context, also, I needed to. However, seeking for answers was perfectly compatible with the rotaract retirement i was expecting : i haven’t heard any new theories in France for decades, so why not going to international parties events and meet as many foreign Rotaractors as I could ? To compare situations, ask for their external opinions. Like I always think, it’s not because we don’t have the answer that it is complex. It may be just a matter of changing the view angle on the problem. So, I’ve decided what would be my next year’s role : go seek for the answer in international events. Funky challenge, non ?
(And that’s why I proposed the next french Rotaract coordinator, Enguerran, to be International Representative of French Rotaracts).
After writing it down, I realize I can advice that to every rotaractor : if you need motivation, energy, or just to clarify your thoughts about what your doing, go to an international meeting. It’s a pure shot.