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Sunday, April 24, 2016


I have attended a Divisional Contest between most of the Toastmaster's clubs in Spain. Firstly I should say that Toastmaster clubs are groups of people who are dedicated to developing and refining our communication skills, between each other and in front of a larger audience. To do this we practise delivering speeches for the public.

The people who participated in the contest had worked their way to the top. Presentations were contested in Spanish, which I got the gist of but I can't say that I completely understood what was said. That can be generally said about my experience of living in Spain. I get the point through the gist of what is being said.

The most helpful thing that we do is to listen carefully to a person's speech, and then we point out the things we think that person did well, and then we focus on how we think, in our own opinion the speech could be made even better. That we call doing an evaluation. When a speech is really good it is extremely difficult to accomplish this.

A speech was given in Spanish and four people evaluated that, and one was given in English and four people evaluated it.

Then speeches were given by individuals on any topic the person wished. Seven contestants competed in both languages, so a lot of talking throughout the day. I took a keen interest in the English contests, of course, and I was very relieved not to be a judge because the speeches were so good.

One woman spoke about making a difference through small actions, and one of those actions taken by her saved a man's life.

Another woman spoke about celebrating our differences of personality and the importance of reaffirming the worth to yourself of the person you have chosen to spend your life with. It's just too easy to complain about the things that our partners do that irritate us.

A young woman focused on the achievements of her friends and weighed those things against the fact that her own claim to fame was that she had collected all 150 Pok√©mon characters. What should she do now?  She developed this question brilliantly with the theme song from Cabaret.

A young man, speaking in a similar genre posed the question: "What is your song?" He articulated his own development and led us to a place where we finally understood what his song was, but never actually sang a note.

The most touching story of the day was told by a young man originally from Brazil who began with the words, "when I opened my eyes the muzzle of the burglar's gun was touching my forehead." He then told how his dog saved his life, and he went on to share with us the story of his life experience with his dog. Eventually he had to put the dog to sleep and now he is trying to cope with super grief.

There were no dry eyes in the room.

I know it's difficult to appreciate my summary if you weren't there, but I'm so pumped up I just can't think of anything else I would rather write about at the moment.

Copyright (c) 2016
Eugene Carmichael

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