Last Saturday afternoon I attended a Toastmaster meeting in Bradell Heights. I was an evaluator. I also participated in table topics. The topic was to tell a story of being heart broken. Instead I told the story of my broken arm. The audience liked my story and laughed a few times. It felt good attending this meeting. A few days back, I presented my speech at our regular club meeting. I enjoyed attending these sessions. I had some thoughts recently that I should spend more time preparing for my departure. But after these meetings I felt glad that I attended. In fact these meeting let me forget my pressure and job stress and made me feel fresh. It allowed me to focus on my speech and the positive and enriching club experience where I get to meet people and relax.
So I realize that the Toastmaster experience is not only to develop public speaking ability but a way to beat stress and relax. I think it does provide a friendly but challenging experience. Looking back today I have done about 15 evaluations, 17 prepared speeches, participated in 4-5 speech contests, attended 2 club officer training and served as a club officer for 2 years. I am quite active and I also started a blog site for my club for about a year now. So my Toastmaster experience has been quite positive after having joined nearly 3 years ago. I think it has helped me be more sociable and improved my self expression. It has been a useful supplement to my blogging because both are forms of non-stressful public expression which also gets feedback for me to improve.
I think I have become a more confident and polished speaker. I hope to also improve my thinking skills. In fact speech evaluation and table topics helps develop critical thinking. I think this experience cannot be replicated in the office due to the fast pace of work, stress and emotions of your co-employees. I also tried to improve my visual thinking skills and I have practiced them quite a lot using mind-mapping and following the work of people like Dan Roam in his book. I will post some of my drawing or visual thoughts in this blog to help me recall what I have done here in my present job. As I prepare to move, I have spent some time reflecting my my stay here. Was it time well spent? Did I learn anything new or did I acquire new skills?
Singapore is like a laboratory, where there are a lot of free facilities that allow you to grow. Excellent libraries, community centers that promote learning experiences like Toastmaster, museums and free lectures about a lot of things. I cannot express enough it's libraries which use the Internet to increase it's service. I have borrowed many audio books, lectures from Stanford university, films, books and other such stuff that will expand your horizon. I think any intelligent person can develop himself under this environment at extremely low cost. Another example, is the car cooperative where one can rent a car for a few hours. So one can have a car at your disposal without incurring a huge cost to buy one.
Yesterday which was a Sunday, we went to Serangoon Gardens for lunch. I had mutton soup, chicken and beef satay, lime juice and Durian. We have been going out nearly every Sunday to eat in famous and cheap food centers, practice driving, bond as a family and have an entirely new experience before leaving the country. In a way, it's like summing up our years spent in this wonderful place. I hope that my sons would not burn their bridges and would still come back. As I am a citizen, I am inevitably linked to the country's destiny. At dusk yesterday, I walked in Ponggol park for an hour while listening to Kiran Desai's 'The Inheritance of Loss'. The park was beautiful in a way I did not notice before. The rain had stopped and the lamps where just turning on. After walking a few rounds around the lake, I sat on the bench and looked across the waters. It was a perfect Singapore weekend.