On March 14, PKU Shenzhen hosted its first meeting of Toastmasters International, a non-profit organization that promotes public speaking and leadership skills for its members. Leaders from the organization are hoping to create a new club for University Town Shenzhen. The organization spans the globe, with a network of 57,000 members in more than 16,600 clubs in 143 countries. Their mission is to help people from diverse backgrounds become more confident speakers, communicators, and leaders.
Being on a university campus full of aspiring leaders and speakers, there was high interest in this first meeting. Over 40 students and staff members filled up all the seats and found places to stand to hear from the evening’s speakers.
The event took place at the Home for International Friends located in the first floor of Building 3. It was held in partnership with the University Town Community Government Office, and was open to all those interested in the surrounding community.
Toastmasters International is already well-established in Shenzhen. The organization has four divisions. Each division is composed of 12 to 14 clubs. In total, Toastmasters is nurturing around 1700 aspiring leaders and public speakers here in the city.
During the session, Cecilia Tang, prospective Co-founder of University Town Club; Christine Zhong, District Division Directory; Carol Lee; and Danielle Ouyang, Area Director, delighted the audience with their enlightening presentation on the history, importance, mission and vision of the organization. Each speaker told their personal story of getting involved in the organization and developing from an inexperienced and nervous public speaker to an expert through the program.
After the event, we talked to the leaders from Toastmaster’s International to gain insight on the program and how it has affected them.
Cecilia Tang, University Town Club Co-founder
“It’s never too late to join Toastmasters!”
At first, when I joined Toastmasters International, I wasn’t lacking confidence; I had a healthy dose of self-confidence that helped me get started in the club. What I didn’t expect was how my confidence would grow and where that new confidence would take me. Thanks to Toastmasters I have tried new things I would not have tried before. I have successfully accomplished 25 speeches and this year I am planning to delivery 10 speeches more.
Christine Zhong, District Division Director
“Change is an ongoing process for Toastmasters and the world.”
Five years ago, I was the one sitting at the back of the meeting room and started wondering whether I could be one of the hostesses of the event. The hostess looked so elegant, confident and attractive while speaking in front of the audience. I was moved to approach her and confess that I really admired how well she did at that time. She invited me to try it myself next time, and this is where the story began. Learning by doing is one of the principles of the Toastmasters educational system. It emphasizes the importance of not being afraid to fail and enjoying every stage of the process.
Danielle Ouyang, Area Director
“We move forward together.”
At the beginning, my primary intention to join Toastmasters International was to learn and improve my English speaking skills, but this is definitely a place not only to learn and practice English language. From the moment, I was encouraged to join Toastmasters to these days I have become more and more confident in my professional and social fields at the same time. Thanks to Toastmasters Club experiences, I am now confident to communicate with people, and also brave enough to overcome adversarial situations.
By Ivan Islas