A few days ago, I sent out an email to all the speechies inviting them to a workshop on Oratory that would be held this afternoon. I didn’t know what to expect…my goal was to have at least a handful of people show up and then at least I would have helped a few people get on their feet with their oratory.
So, I typed up a handout and prepared a short lesson. I can honestly say that I was very excited- I love teaching!
But again, I didn’t know what to expect, but when I walked into C-3 right after school, twenty young eager faces stared back at me.
We got through the lesson in a very timely manner. I covered pretty much everything, they seemed to comprehend most of it, and I absolutely loved their excitement and eagerness. And since we finished early, I decided to do an exercise we did at camp.
Oratory is about telling your story. It’s not about trophies or talking about “a problem” in society. Oratory is about passing on your personal message of inspiration- a message that has helped shape your life and make you a better person.
At camp, we spent about half an hour sitting by ourselves and writing our life story, trying to find an event, a time, or a situation that really influenced the way we thought, spoke, or acted. We were to search for that one time in our life that we try to forget about because it’s too painful to think about.
And then we stood up in front of the Oratory lab, and we told our story. We talked about what happened, why it mattered to us, what we had learned, and how it had shaped us. And believe it or not, we all ended up in tears.
It was so difficult because confronting that time in your life is a hard thing to do already, but telling a group of people you don’t know too well? That’s an entirely different story.
But we did exactly that. I told all twenty of the prospective Orators to think of their lives and write their story down. And when they dispersed, I didn’t expect a single person to have the courage to stand up and tell the rest of the group. My goal was to make them think.
Boy was I wrong to underestimate these novices. I heard so many inspirational stories from new immigrants who were bullied, to kids who had to deal with a death in the family. Each story I heard was just as inspiring as the previous…and they were just novices.
I can’t even begin to express to you how proud I was of these novices. My expectations were completely blown away, and I was so touched by each of their stories.
I love teaching. I love it so much. In fact, I find more reward in the accomplishments of others than myself. It sounds weird, but I just think back to State Quals 2010 when Nancy got 2nd place, and I practically jumped out of my seat in joy because I was more proud of her than I have ever been of myself.
I want to say thank you to those twenty kids who showed up today. They showed me that anything is possible with an open mind and an eager attitude. I can’t wait to see them grow in the next several months.
But it’s not about the reward and it’s not about the trophies. Oratory is about the message. Oratory is about inspiration. And that’s exactly what those kids did today. So they’re not kids anymore- they’re orators.