Sunday, September 28, 2008

Toastmasters is an Education

Presidential Opening Address
By Nathaniel Koh Kim Kui, CL
President , Temasek Polytechnic Toastmasters Club
23rd March 2003, Friday

A couple of months ago, Temasek Polytechnic issued a directive ordering all Co-Curricular Activities to be suspended until further notice. As a result, we are not allowed to conduct our Chapter Meetings in the poly. That is why we are here today conducting this Chapter Meeting in the home of Tampines Changkat Toastmasters Club.

I would like to thank the President of Tampines Changkat, CL Daniel Goh, who will be arriving later, for confirming this venue for us. 

This would also not have been possible without our Vice-President Education-elect, Hui Mian's, commitment and enthusiasm in searching for an alternative venue for us. She asked many clubs like Tampines West and Changi-Simei, before deciding to hold the meeting at Tampines Changkat. Let us appreciate her efforts.

It is this commitment and enthusiasm that will propel our club towards greater state of awareness in the future.

I have been in our club for the past three years and my dedication towards it remains strong. It is not blind faith, mindless following, or CCA points that keeps me working for our club, rather it is because of my belief our club can change your lives for the better, as it has for mine.

I believe that most of us are not yet aware of the good that our club can bring to us now and in the future. Most of our fellow students in the poly think that they must already be excellent public speakers when they join our club. That is not true. We are different from the rest of the CCAs in the poly.

Some CCAs like the Pacesetters require us to go through interviews before being a member. Some CCAs like the Band only take in those who are already good in playing an instrument. Some CCAs like the Debaters only focus on the best people by giving them more opportunities while leaving behind those who can't speak.

We are above those CCAs. We are not just a club. We are more than a club. We are an education. Toastmasters is an education. 

When we began our lives, we didn't know how to count, how to read, how to write, how to talk, but through education we learnt how to count, to read, to write, and to do those thing that we are supposed to do as human beings.

When we began our studies in our Diplomas, we didn't know much. When I began my Diploma in Information Technology, I didn't know how to programme. I didn't know what the parts of a computer were. I didn't know anything about IT. But it was through my education process of studying, attending lectures and tutorials, that I learnt how to programme, and have exceled in the IT Diploma.

Similarly, when we join this club, we didn't know much about public speaking and leadership. But it is only through attending Chapter Meetings regularly, delivering our project speeches regularly, interacting with Toastmasters from other clubs, being involved in the decision-making process of our club, being in the Executive Committee, that we are able to learn public speaking and leadership.

In our Diplomas, there are times when we find it difficult to handle our projects and tutorials, sometimes we don't understand what our lecturers are talking about, but we perservere because we want to get the grade.

Similarly, there will be times when we find it difficult to prepare our speeches, to attend Chapter Meetings regularly. But instead of persevering, some of us become inactive or leave the club entirely. That's because some of us do not have the eyes to see beyond our studies, beyond those insignificant ABCs, beyond our noses.

Toastmasters is an education. And in an education, there will be diffiulties involved. But these difficulties can be shared. In our studies, when we have a problem completing a question, we ask our friend for help. Similarly, when we find it difficult to prepare our speeches, when we are faced with a problem anything, we can always ask our friends in this club for help.

In our Diplomas, we only study for three years and we get a Diploma in the end. But in Toastmasters, there is no time limit to our education. Toastmasters is an education for life for as long as we choose.

The end result of this education is not a Diploma, it is not an ABC, it is not even getting a CTM or DTM. The result of a Toastmasters education is the satisfaction of seeing ourselves improve day by day, step by step, bit by bit, in our public speaking and leadership abilities. Of seeing ourselves grow to become a person we always aspire to be.

In this education, there is no lecturer who can pass or fail us. If we want to pass, we pass. If we want to fail, we fail. We decide for ourselves, and if we decide to pass, we will pass not by getting a piece of paper that will be useless many years from now, but we will pass in the improvement of our lives and seeing ourselves grow and develop as people

We are more than a club, we are an education. Toastmasters is an education.

No comments: