domingo, 31 de marzo de 2013

Is This Not Diversity?

It’s interesting how Words of the Day can sometimes define a whole session: Diversity was such word and diversity we had indeed, both in guests and visiting Toastmasters from other clubs as well as in the speeches, evaluations and table topics presented during the evening. Never a dull session at TM Barcelona!
After our President Marion Chevalier greeted guests and members, José Bellocq skillfully assumed the role of Toastmaster and introduced his team for the session: Mariyana Tasheva as Timekeeper, Sandra Almeida as Ah-Counter, Oleksandr Raspopov as Grammarian, and myself as the one who’d take six –sorry, two- pages of notes in order to fulfill his role as Blogger.
It was time for the first Ice Breaker of the night: ‘From Who I Am From?’ was the question proposed by Regina Fullana, who framed the description of her parents in the Taoist concept of Yin and Yang – a nice way of expressing their complementarity. We learned that his brother is an avid traveler, and that she’d like to follow his steps in this regard. Having a dream is the first step towards getting there Regina, just like in Toastmasters!
‘I decided to get out of my comfort zone’. This was one of the first phrases in Joseph Beale’s Ice Breaker, titled ‘The Most Important Decision Of My Life’, in which we learned that he moved from Manchester to Barcelona seeking new challenges and the sense of personal growth. Well it appears to have worked, because he confessed he’s now in love with Barcelona – and with his girlfriend, whom he met here and with whom he’ll get married in September. Congratulations!
Now, as I was writing those lines above I asked myself, ‘Hey… are you sure you want to share all this positive, valuable information with everyone over the net? What if somehow revealing our ‘secret’ worsened the experience?’. This is the question Sandra Lensen from HP Toastmasters Barcelona raised through her speech ‘To Share Or Not To Share’, in which she made us note how businesses, places or events can quickly get crowded and their quality suffer should they become too popular.
The Tables Topics of the evening were no simple task; Rayane Bachammar thought out interesting ways to defend the case of diversity - in front of a UN commission, no less. Ambrós Abellana, Lucasz Zagroba and Blanca Ozcariz did a nice job convincing us to dance Sardana/Masai style, wear Italian suits with African tutus and even interpret our dreams through a Freudian/Indian/Australian methodology.
I’m sure you’re now convinced this really was a diverse session!
The General Evaluator Agnieszka Gut presented her comments in a very visually manner, intensively using the blackboard and adding another dimension to the information conveyed. With this, the meeting was adjourned and we all went to the bar for, yes, you guessed it - a diversity of well-earned beers…
Isaac Riera
(PS. Pictures to follow as soon as they become available, stay tuned)

jueves, 21 de marzo de 2013

Qué noche la del 20.03.2013!

Después de la amable bienvenida de nuestra Sargeant at Arms Teresa Rubinat, la Presidenta Marion Chevalier presentó a los numerosos invitados: 12 visitantes de Brasil, Alemania, México y por supuesto varias regiones españolas (incluyendo dos de Baleares que prometieron traer ensaimadas la próxima vez...) y miembros de otros TM Clubs de Barcelona.
También anunció la incorporación de 3 nuevos miembros: Laura, Lucas e Isaac, quien juró solemnemente participar activamente en las sesiones!

Sin perder un minuto, la TM de la noche Rose Chong nos deleitó con una alegre canción de bienvenida de la Primavera y dio paso al chiste de Teresa (Que tiemblen los conventos de monjas!), para luego presentar al calificado Equipo Técnico: Timekeeper Ambrós Abellana, Ah-Counter Natalia Gurdian y Grammarian Blanca Ozcariz, que nos propuso como palabra especial: Perfección.

Tuvimos 2 interesantes Speechs:
Mariyana Tasheva nos atrapó con su relato "La identidad de un pueblo" acerca de 3 tradiciones búlgaras: La Martenitsa (figuras blanca y roja de gran contenido simbólico), los huevos de Pascua coloreados en el culto ortodoxo y la Survakane, costumbre para celebrar el Año Nuevo.

Teresa Rubinat en "Luces de Africa" nos  introdujo en la vida de 2 mujeres nacidas en tribus, ejemplos de superación y modelos de vida para Occidente: Sobonfu Somé de Burkina Faso y Waris Dirie de Somalia.
Nos impactó especialmente su conclusión final: 
"Todos llevamos una luz especial. Somos lo suficientemente valientes para dejarla brillar?"


Luego de las correspondientes evaluaciones por parte de Lucie Arnaudies y Marion Chevalier, Rose nos introdujo en una sección especial, "Evaluate evaluators", conducida por Florian Mück, con su reconocido profesionalismo y personal estilo. 
Su presentación, confirmando que "Una evaluación también es un discurso", incluyó numerosos consejos prácticos para estructurar y mejorar nuestras evaluaciones y nos llenó de positivismo!
Quedó pendiente para otra oportunidad la posibilidad de evaluar al evaluador de los evaluadores...

La presentación de los Table Topics permitió a Oscar González mostrarnos su fuerza interpretativa:

animando a los espontáneos Sebastián, Magda y Marisol Cifuentes a contarnos sus impresiones sobre 3 particulares obras de arte (incluyendo La Maja - tranquilos!- vestida):

El experimentado Joan Fabregat como General Evaluator nos presentó las conclusiones del equipo técnico y aportó numerosas recomendaciones para mejorar - aún más, será posible? ... :-)  -  nuestra sesiones.

La TM Rose nos regaló una frase especialmente adecuada para los Toastmasters:

"Si quieres llegar rápido, ve solo.
 Si quieres llegar lejos, vamos juntos!" 

Se referirá a su carrera como cantante...?

Finalmente, la Presidenta Marion nos informó de las novedades ( Contest del 23.03 y Open Day del 06.04) y recordó la necesidad de renovar los pagos del semestre. 

La SAA Teresa cerró la sesión con el martillazo habitual, ante la ansiedad de todos por el encuentro con las tostadas y cervezas (momento del cual ya no recuerdo nada...).

Hasta la próxima!
José Bellocq

lunes, 11 de marzo de 2013


This was another exciting evening at Toastmasters Barcelona. Not only were we in for an Ice Breaker named after a very interesting question, but we would learn how to become successful bloggers –particularly useful for me, for obvious reasons!- and listen to a speech which will enter competition soon enough. Sounds promising, right?

After Agnieszka Gut, as acting President, welcomed Toastmasters and guests –quite a lot of us, by the way. Go Guests!- Carmen Pazos filled the Toastmaster role and skillfully introduced both the program and those covering the Ah-Counter, Grammarian and Timekeeper roles.

‘Where am I from?’ That can certainly be a tough one to answer! However Rayane Bachammar did so splendidly in her Ice Breaker, pointing out the difference between our physical place of birth and the place we feel we come from. The phrase ‘one identity made of different elements’ –as she describes her multinational origin and background- sounds as clear as a bell. Great speech Rayane, we welcome your identity indeed!

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a successful blogger? Sandra Guerrero hinted at three key elements: Making yourself visible, blogging about what you know, and building trust. If you choose the right  topic, work on a great blog design and post regularly without giving up, nothing can stop you! Thanks Sandra for sharing such expert insights with us.

Finally, we had the great pleasure of attending the speech ‘Modern Times’ by Girish Pramani, which will enter competition in just a few days. It is awesome to see the level one can attain when dedication meets talent. Girish reminded us a smile is ‘happiness under your nose’, so why not smile more often … kids do it up to 300 times a day! In this time of running up and down, we can reference so many similarities from the classic Charlie Chaplin film and extract conclusions from it. Let’s wear more happiness under our nose, shall we?

The table topics of the day were about fears, albeit quite particular ones. Mariyana Tasheva asked volunteers to talk about having fear of tasting food and having your partner prepare a special meal for you, fear of stair climbing when you work on a 74th floor, or fear of flowers when you’re gifted with a bouquet of them.

The word of the day was ‘Propinquity’... I think most of us would probably have to look this one up in the dictionary. Even with such a complex word, eight members used it in their speeches. Aren't we simply awesome??