June 2019 was the time when I was approached for the position of Division Secretary. I knew it would be challenging; I knew it would be difficult. But I didn’t know what was in store for me. Reality struck me when then Division A Director elect Suman Shakya expressed his wish to visit the existing and new clubs which would charter under him. Initially, I thought visiting 18 clubs is not a joke, and this is a wish which would not come true given his schedule and responsibilities, but little did I know that he was driven.
One beautiful morning, I received an email saying, please send it to the Area Directors and club presidents. The email was about scheduling his visit to the clubs. Before I sent that email, I asked him what was the reason behind his visit. To which he replied, “I don’t want to see their regular meetings and suggest improvements. I purely want to interact with members and attempt to answer their queries regarding Toastmasters and how they can benefit.” I was impressed that he was willing to go to such lengths for the benefit of members.
My actual work began once I started receiving date options from the clubs. I was constantly in touch with the clubs, Area Directors, and Division Director to manage the time and dates. I had scheduled 11 visits during September.
4th September 2019, was the day he visited the first club, Baneshwor Toastmasters Club. Baneshwor Toastmasters Club decided to have featured speeches and then the interaction session. With featured speeches, evaluation, and the Division Director’s session, the meeting went on for 2 hours. Then and there, I realized that scheduling the Division Director’s visit with a regular club meeting was a bad idea. After that experience, I made sure that the upcoming meetings were fully dedicated to interaction only, and members got maximum time to interact with him.
Every meeting was different: different people, different questions, different perspectives, and different answers. I watched him simplify some answers as per the understanding of a person, and also complicate some so that everything wasn’t given in a platter. I have seen him beat around the bush and give long answers to short questions. I watched him bombard information to coax members to think and question. I watched him turn from a prim and proper speaker to a person who rolled his sleeves and became a teacher.
At KCM Toastmasters Club, he drove everyone to a classroom, asked for a marker, got into his teacher mode, and started to draw a year plan so that the club could plan better. Seeing him take a class using whiteboard and marker, I made sure that things were arranged in the next visits. When we went to Standard Chartered Bank Nepal Toastmasters Club, one member asked him how to craft a speech. He got into his teacher mode and started to explain how to plan speeches. In 15 mins, he got people to brainstorm and draw an outline for their next three speeches.
From visiting clubs in-person to virtually visiting clubs outside the valley, he did it all. He has made it to all 34 clubs with the same enthusiasm and interest. He made sure that the members got the best out of him. Even as we were in lockdown, he did not give up. He continued to visit clubs. And this time it wasn’t just one, but he visited Chitwan Landmark, Butwal and Leadbox Toastmasters Club in one go with the same enthusiasm. The final visit before his term came to end was a combined meeting of four clubs and that meeting was the cherry on the cake.
The Division Director’s Visit was an initiative which was appreciated and well taken by all the members.
Neha Amatya, Division A Secretary, VPPR, Tourism Toastmasters
Published in Inkspire Issue 4. Click here for the full newsletter.