“When you share life stories and encouraging remarks with others ... the people in the clubs are not just members, they are extended family.”—Angie Palmer, DTM
As much as COVID-19 has been inconveniencing all of us, it has given me a long vacation from work. I run a wellness and fitness studio that had to be closed for many weeks. I started reading books, decluttering my closets and drawers, brushing up my rusty Japanese, signing up for webinars and classes, and looking up Toastmasters. I had been a member in the U.S. from 2006–2011 and thought 2020 was a great opportunity to rejoin.
When I discovered clubs were meeting online, I began calling clubs, hoping to visit as a guest. Two District leaders helped me narrow down the bilingual clubs in my area, and after some visits, I found what became my home club in Hong Kong—New Experience Toastmasters Club.
Though I love my new club, I became nostalgic for my first club—Desert Basin Toastmasters Club in Alamogordo, New Mexico. I contacted the former Club President and was happy to find that she was still a member of the club. After that, we exchanged emails for a few weeks, and I rejoined the club! I am excited to be with my “original” family again. It would be a crazy idea to join a club in the U.S. when you are physically on the other side of the earth, but now everything is a possibility.
My new club in Hong Kong is like my adopted family, and they are giving me the opportunity to grow and develop speaking in Mandarin. They have also organized joint meetings with various clubs in China, Japan, and Taiwan. The cultural exchange and international friendships are priceless, to say the least.
When you share life stories and encouraging remarks with others, learn to communicate with people around you, and follow specified paths toward a common goal, the people in the clubs are not just members, they are extended family.
I am continuing to expand my family and recently chartered a new club called Earthlings Toastmasters. It is a 100% online club with members from all over the world, including the U.S., Jamaica, China, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and Canada.
Toastmasters, thank you. It’s good to be home.
Angie Palmer, DTM
Hong Kong • New Experience Toastmasters Club Hong Kong, Desert Basin Club, and Earthlings Toastmasters Club
Creating Family Connection
I was looking for some meaningful activities to do with my 10 grandchildren, who range in age from 13 to 25. Culturally we’re very diverse. I hail from India where we do not know baseball but do know cricket. Football in India is actually soccer in the U.S. But my grandkids grew up in the U.S. and talk about American sports, players, teams, and statistics to no end, and when they do, I sit in silence.
Thanks to Toastmasters, I found some common ground.
For the past few years when my family got together during the holidays, we played “surprise topics”—very similar to Table Topics. All the participants enjoyed it.
Since my grandchildren enjoyed surprise topics, I looked into the Toastmasters Interpersonal Communication program in an attempt to further connect with them. The program is designed to assist teens in developing listening, expression, and communication skills. The program can be purchased and presented by anyone in the community, including teachers, guidance counselors, mentors, etc. Each chapter has details of activities to be performed with the participants. I supplemented with cartoons and presentations from the web.
We held 10 Zoom sessions, and the last one was the most enjoyable. My grandchildren gave speeches on their future goals. The speeches revealed what the family youngsters were thinking about as careers. All my grandchildren have their speeches and I recommended they periodically review and update them.
By conducting this camp, I’ve learned about these youngsters. I am impressed that each one of them thought so deeply about their future. Now I can talk with them about their future plans.
If you are a parent who has run out of activities or a grandparent who cannot travel to see grandchildren, try an informal Table Topics or Interpersonal Communication program to bring you closer together.
Vishwa Bhargava, DTM
Henrico, Virginia, U.S. • Dominion Energy Toastmasters
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