Saturday, September 1, 2012

Give something back - 26 August

Give something back . . . . . . and see what you get in return.

My initial involvement with Toastmasters, which has endured for the best part of fifteen years, was a selfish quest. I had to be able to take school assemblies, but I feared (what I perceived to be) the critical comments of the staff behind me on the stage. The five hundred or more pupils in the hall in front of me were not the problem. I had seen the transforming benefits of the Toastmasters Youth Leadership courses at our school, for so many of our pupils. I figured that if they could make such a difference to the pupils, they would surely be able to help me. The rest, as they say, is history.
I had been teaching then for almost fifteen years, but I recall as if it were yesterday, my anxiety when I stepped up to do my Ice-Breaker speech, entitled No Man is an Island. Dry mouth, clammy hands, cue cards clutched desperately like a lifeline for a drowning (wo)man, I stumbled and stuttered my way through it. Then came the adrenalin rush afterwards – and I was hooked.

I am sure, at this moment, many of you have been transported back through time to your own first speech. I know you identify with how I felt. But, I am sure you also feel the benefits of what Toastmasters has done for you. So, what happened next? I became involved in the running of Youth Leadership courses at my school, and in assisting at other schools. Two years ago I decided to get involved in the running of Speechcraft courses that are run on the same basis – 8 weekly sessions of fairly intense Toastmasters training encompassing learning the skills of meeting procedure; doing impromptu speeches; finding out about the intricacies of vocal variety, gestures and body language; learning about the value of organisation and planning and a host of other skills that one assimilates along the way.
Fourteen Youth Leadership courses and three Speechcraft courses and I still can’t get over the ‘kick’ it gives me to see the metamorphosis – literally lives are changed by the experience. I shouldn’t be surprised. I have experienced it in my own life. So have you. My challenge to all Algoa members is to get involved. I know you are all busy people, but giving back what you have gained to the community – at any level – will give you much more satisfaction than if you had kept it to yourself. Clearly not everyone wants to run a course, but you can offer to help. Speak to VPEd, Alison Immelman, to find out where your help might be needed.

I must tell you about our Speech contest, which was held on 28 August. Both competitions yielded high quality speeches. Firstly, the Impromptu Contest saw members; Alison Immelman, Nicholas Mitchell, Mariannah Lourens and Trevor Wells wax lyrical about the word FLAT. From buying their first flat, to feeling flat at the end of the day, our competitors managed to rise to the occasion. Congratulations to Nicholas for winning the contest and to Alison for her second place! Then it was the Humorous Contest. Mariannah Lourens entertained us with her views on Road rage in an aptly named speech, Roadrageous. After that Nicholas Mitchell had us chuckling with his thought-provoking speech on the joys of large families, Why Four? Finally, Trevor Wells had us experiencing his pain on being dumped by a wave in his speech, Washing Machine. Our congratulations (once again) go to Nicholas on winning this contest – and on the announcement about Number Five! Also to Mariannah on her second place – and on the announcement about the birth of another grandbaby, born in Hawaii! Now it’s up to us to support the winners as they compete in the next rounds: Area Contest - (8 September, at VP Grey – 10 am). Then the Division Contest (15 September, also at VP Grey at 10 am). I am sure Colleen Love (Area Governor, E1) and Glenis Whitehead (Division Governor) would be most grateful for your assistance. Think about the benefits of giving back.
Until next time.
Ricky Woods

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