I can come clean, I'm really not very good with names. I've found it very hard to get to know everyone at Rotary - at the time of writing this I'm still finding it hard to get to know everyone.
I'd spoken to Lucy in one of the earlier meetings but still knew very little about her. I'd only been to 12 meetings at this point and still felt very much the new boy. I gather many new Rotarians felt the same way. I thought Lucy had been there for a lot longer but in fact had only started going regularly in March too. New or not, we'd taken on a challenge to run the committee and had a pressing engagement - a Fun Day to organise. In the initial organisation chart I had been put in the Public Relations committee so I had no idea what had been going on in Service Projects. Lucy was within the Service Projects committee under the "International" section. That was a job she's kept in addition to her new Deputy role. Our club had already set the goal of twinning with a Rotary club in Amiens, that meets at Amiens Cathedral. Lucy's perfect English accent effectively conceals the fact she's French, grew up in France and speaks the language fluently. Rather handy member for setting up twinning with a French club then!
In an effort to get to know her more and figure out what the aims of our committee were we met at her local pub. What could have taken an hour ended up taking all night until closing time - the functional bit an hour or so, the rest a lot of interesting conversation. Initially she filled me in on what had happened within the Service Projects committee up until that point. Only one meeting, some initial ideas on what to do at the fun day. I think it was then I discovered that we weren't organising a whole fun day - but running a stand at a Rotary organised fun day - Phew! Lucy already had the Risk Assessments under control, another couple of members had suggested some activities for our stand to generate some revenue.
We set our objectives as
- Get as many club members involved in the Fun Day as possible,
- Raise money for our chosen charity.
The club had already chosen Odyssey as the charity.
I also found out that although Lucy was as new to Rotary membership as I was, she had been a secretary for another Rotarian when she first came to work in England. She already knew a lot about how Rotary worked, how it's organised and what the protocols are. That knowledge has been very useful - simple things to the experienced Rotarian (like what 'club assembly' means) are very confusing to me. Lucy has been picking up on all the times I've use the wrong term preventing yet more confusion.
The non Rotary discussions covered how it came to be that a French girl acquires a perfect English accent yet has only been working in the UK for a few years. It turns out her Mum is English and every year after French schools had finished she'd visit England and stay with a pen pal, spending a month in an English school before our summer holidays. One of her brothers now lives in England too - at least for the time he's not doing charity work overseas. Her degree studies in Paris sounded like hard work but a solid foundation to life too, one of the things I'd like to learn more of is how different education systems work and their strengths and weaknesses.
The more I get to know the other members, the more I feel able to make a difference within the club. Shorter conversations with other club members have already revealed that Karen is a couple of years younger than me and grew up in the same village and went to the same school! I never remember meeting her before, but we must have as children.
Two weeks to go until the fun day, how did it all go? Read on once more....