Being a member of a club outside the capital city Kathmandu, there are many opportunities I always felt we missed. Besides the guidance from our mentors, there were very few examples for us to learn. Although we tried our best to perform as per the standards, there would be times when we questioned ourselves- “Are we doing this right?”, “Are we missing something?” “ Is there something more we could do?” The answers were slow to come, as we had to consult our mentors and area director over the phone or chat to get directions. We were led by theory rather than by example. When we did not have someone suitable enough to be an evaluator, we had to resort to video conferencing with Toastmasters from Kathmandu. How can I forget the pain of having a poor network at such times- the video freezing, the voice broking, the call disconnecting in the middle of the speech. Yes, it felt like we were all alone sailing in the vast ocean, with a guiding light very far away in the distant.
After the pandemic, we could no longer hold physical meetings. But then, after not so long, Toastmasters came with the virtual platform. Suddenly it seemed like the whole world of Toastmasters opened up offering not just its learnings, but also myriad opportunities to network and collaborate. Joint meetings, speeches and workshops by world-class speakers, and many club meetings to choose from, what else would I want to spend time during this lockdown? I could present my speech in front of so many- my mentor, distinguished toastmasters, and even my mom, who was in Kathmandu! And had it not been for the virtual move, would I be able to witness the Division and District level speech contests- the historical event where Nepal would win three district-level contests? Probably not. I can now only wish that the world championship also happens virtually so that I can be a part of it- to cheer our contenders in the semifinals and hopefully in the finals too! I hope this virtual platform can be leveraged even when life normalizes.
Parineeta Thapa, Dharan Toastmasters Club