My Week in Toastmasters part – #1

6/1/2014: Our Black Iris Meeting (BITC) was one filled with life, and within our cozy family of 13 members, we learned about the history of the English language thanks to our TM of the day Nader Nazzal.  The things that stuck to my mind were that English has been around since the start of the Roman Empire, traveling through the ages and across maps and boarders so that today it is a combination of Italian, German, Greek, and even Arabic. Terms like Algorithms and Algebra came from the Arabic language, so let’s face it we Arabs were the science nerds of the time.    

Meet our BITC family

Furthermore,  TM Amer Nazzal aka Nader Nazzal Junior,  showed us a 5 tip plan on how to keep our New Year resolutions, and his bottom line was that we should all commit to our goals and keep the plans doable. So, ladies and gentleman you don’t need to strive to resolve world hunger before June 2014, maybe you can start small by resolving to eat maybe 1 fruit a day.   

Nadder traces the history of the English Language

 TM Mohammad Nsoor also startled us with an image of the over packed highway in China as an intro to his speech. He did that only to make a point about the universality of traffic problems. Moving from the universal to the local he went on to describe how this problem has affected us here in Amman and how the cars on the streets have increased by 110% in 10 years. Despite all the demoting figures, he managed to end the speech on a positive note stating that one can resolve this problem by taking some responsibility.

Mohammad Nsoor talks about traffic

From her end, TM Nada gave us an entertaining speech about her life as a half Arab half Philippine attending an Indian Schoolin Kuwait, and how this mix made her prone to some not so great stereotypes.

She shocked us more in Table topics, making us share our thoughts on words like Lust, hate, forget achievements, and dreams. Some memorable phrases included, “Dreams are important ant no matter how big or small”, said by Dana , “I realized hate is a strong word” said by Fekri, “Thoughts change by accents”, said by TM Mohammad Abu Hamad, and “I love slumber” said by TM Ahmad Safarini.  In the relaxation portion TM Asalah made us play the memory game, and our guest Ala’ went home with the grand prize, a chocolate bar, in recognition of her sharp memory.

Ala’ gets chocolate for her memory

On a lighter note, and just to prove to you that BITC is not all serious and no fun, we celebrated our fellow members’ Birthday, Happy Birthday TM Mohammad Abu Hamad with cake, goodies, and shooting candles. Happy Birthday Moe.

Mohammad celebrates his birthday at BITC

7/1/2014:  The next day and before a larger crowd the members of Amman International Toastmasters club met for a speak-a-thon. I realize that it is only  when you attend two meetings in a row that you truly understand the phrase “No 2 club meetings are the same”, while BITC (Black Iris Toastmaster Club) boasted a friendly cozy atmosphere the evening before, AITC (Amman International Toastmasters Club) was  all seriousness, learning, and professionalism.  True to form, this particular meeting comprised 8 speeches, no Table topics, no games, and no prizes but the suspense was still maintained by the General Evaluator TM Osama Abu Salah who introduced the concept of impromptu evaluations.  Through this concept he would call on Random members from the audience to evaluate the speeches.  So yes, there was no room for anyone to play with their smart phones while a speaker was giving his/her speech, as there was the chance for anyone to be called on to evaluate.

Yamama questions Dubai fireworks

The room had over 25 attendees, and the program consisted of a wide range of speeches from the advanced to the ice breaker. The Presiding Officer TM Yamama started off with a discussion question about the fireworks in Dubai, where she asked if members felt it was right to spend USD 400 million on this spectacle while people around the world were starving. Some said it wasn’t, since this money could have been used to save lives while others said  it was business and this world is all about business. The first speaker for the evening was the club’s newest member   TM Mirvat, who spoke about forgotten dreams. She told us how her shyness was mistaken for lack of confidence, and she shared with us her passion for photography, volunteer work, and singing. What touched me in her speech was the inspiration she got from her professor, and how he told her that “Teachers are stations people stop at, within different points of their lives”.  On the more factual front TM Samar spoke to us about the concept of omoiyari, derived from the Japanese philosophy to mean an attitude of concern for the feelings of others..

She also explained how acting with omoiyari is neither me-focused (self-centered), nor you-focused (altruistic); but rather it is we-focus (interdependence). She then ended her speech by stating how acting with omoiyari, can make the world a better place. Also on the inspirational note TM Shadi spoke to us about the “Just do it” idea, and how one can make anything happen if he/she really plans for it.

Shadi says just do it

On the more factual front TM Sawsan spoke to us about her 7 day trip to the UAE and how each Emirate has a different flavor with Dubai being fast paced and high-tech Abu Dhabi soon to boast the world’s most impressive environmental project, and Sharjah being the home of culture.

Within all this seriousness, there was still room for humor, thanks to TM Mohammad Al Shawa who spoke to us about  a childhood experience that highlights his mother’s speed of punishment, any child born before the whole children rights era can relate to that story where parents threw things at their kids in an attempt to achieve discipline .  TM Fekri also made us laugh with two stories from his life, one involving his luck with women and the other involving his experience as a volunteer.

Sawsan tours UAE

Last but not least, TM Rana compared human beings to pencil, where the lead inside them is the real power, they get sharper with time, and they can erase mistakes. She also said life is like a paper and we choose the marks we want to make on that paper.

Rana says we are like pencils and life is a piece of paper

This is all the info, I got from attending two Toastmaster meetings, and this is the first installment in my weekly column “My Week in Toastmasters”.   So, next time someone tells you about Toastmasters  don’t think it’s all speeches, no fun and no action, instead think of it as a place where new ideas are born and listening comes cheap


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