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September 2023
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Astarte, DTM

By Mary Nesfield

FROM LEFT: Astarte and her mentee Carol Johnson

Former Division Governor Astarte, DTM, is a longtime member who belongs to two clubs in the North Island of New Zealand. She was a secondary school teacher for 15 years before becoming a massage therapist and life coach. Astarte (who only uses one name) is also licensed to perform marriages and civil unions. Her mentee Carol Johnson is a librarian at Massey University, Palmerston North, who joined Toastmasters after attending a Speechcraft program. She later joined the Palmerston North Club, where she met Astarte. Johnson had initially felt intimidated by Astarte’s dynamic, exuberant style, she says, but then sought her out as a mentor after she reached a plateau in her skill development.

Tell us about Astarte.

Astarte is a generous, talented Toastmaster who can put together a creditable speech within five minutes. She’s warm-hearted and empathic, but she won’t shirk from addressing sensitive issues such as helping members overcome awkward mannerisms. She has a tremendous, infectious sense of fun and adventure, and she loves trying new things, such as learning to play the didgeridoo [a musical wind instrument developed by Aboriginal Australians].

What have you accomplished as a member?

When I joined, I thought the learning would be all about giving speeches, but some of the biggest lessons have come through the leadership track. Astarte encouraged me to take on club leadership roles and I was named 2015/2016 Area Director of the Year for District 72. Astarte persuaded me to create outlines and speak off the cuff rather than memorize my speeches. Early in our mentoring relationship, Astarte helped me with a speech for our club’s International Speech Contest. The content was good, but my delivery needed work. Astarte taught me specific techniques to help me speak and move more naturally to create a stronger audience connection. I placed second in that contest. With Astarte’s help, I continued to improve the speech and I won the area contest, and then placed second at the division level—thrilling moments!


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