The much awaited announcement came on Jan 7, 2020. Toastmasters and Rotary officially partnered to help members enhance their skills, broaden their network, grow professionally and increase their positive impact in communities. A new era of collaboration had begun between organizations that each had a history of 100 plus years.
“The strategic alliance with Rotary is exciting and allows both organizations to leverage our unique and similar strengths,” says Deepak Menon, Toastmasters’ 2019-20 International President. “We look forward to providing our current and prospective members with ongoing additional offerings that meet their evolving needs.”
‘Toastmasters will create a set of eight structured communication and leadership development courses for Rotary with a phased rollout that will be available in English in 2020’. The press release added ‘The ongoing relationship between the two organizations will begin at the grassroots level with local club members learning and working together’.
In Nepal, Division A had already started collaboration at local level with discussions at various Rotary Clubs last year. After the official announcement, the first engagement of Toastmasters took place at Rotary Club of Kupondole on January 29, 2020. Senior Rotarian Jitendra B Rajbhandary had invited me to speak about Toastmasters, its benefits and how we can start working together.
Among the audience were senior Rotary leaders of the District, past and present, senior officers and members from many Rotary clubs. A half hour talk and interaction stretched amicably to an hour long exciting engagement. In my presentation, I had included examples of four Rotary Clubs in USA starting a Toastmasters club and how it had helped members. I appealed to Rotarians that they had such wonderful local stories to share from their amazing social work and their stories needed to be told better with heightened impact. This will help multiply their influence and bring more funds to continue their humanitarian efforts.
The interest demonstrated were palpable and genuine. They agreed, leaders at Rotary clubs in Nepal will benefit from Toastmasters and they will be able to articulate their thoughts much better and communicate with ease. Senior Rotarians Dilendra Shrestha and Prafulla Pradhan gave instances of their initiatives a decade ago for their would-be District leaders to join Toastmasters then and how few past District Governors actually joined.
During fellowship after the program, many Rotarians offered invitations to speak at their clubs and quizzed how to open clubs. Few Rotaracts who were invited promised to share the information to different clubs. Strong leads for at least 3-4 prospective Toastmasters Clubs were discussed. Area Directors Anish Acharya and Prashant Shrestha became busy filling up their calendar with meeting dates.
I have shared my presentation with my team members and to District 41 officials, who might pick it up / use as reference and improve it when they are invited to speak. Following the event, there has been continuous discussions to collaborate. I have spoken to Rotaracts separately and they will be keeping a slot during their District conference for a Toastmasters session.
Locally, we have started to join hands to compound our collective effort that will see the ripple effect extending to the network of both organizations. Good work continues…
Suman Shakya, DTM
Division A Director
District 41, Toastmasters International