My first Toastmasters Club session

by Krishna Tippur Gururaj, Computer Science MS student 

I had heard about Toastmasters a couple of years ago from a friend who was looking for a way to overcome a crippling fear of public speaking. I mirrored similar feelings but due to some circumstances, I could not find out more and join. Last semester I came across an e-mail from the RIT chapter of Toastmasters. I was keen on attending a meeting but unfortunately, the timings of their weekly sessions coincided with classes so I was not able to take part.

This semester I happen to be free during their meetings so finally in the 5th week, I got myself to go for a session of Tiger Tales Toastmaster Club. I walked in apprehensively, got greeted at the door by a smiling greeter (I found out later that one member is assigned to be a “greeter” each session) who realized almost immediately that I was a newcomer and patiently walked me through the sign-in process, handed me a copy of the day’s agenda, and found me a spot.

It was 6:28 PM and the session was scheduled to start at 6:30 PM. I saw people walking around chatting with others so I expected a delay in proceedings. I could not have been more wrong. At exactly 6:30 PM, the “opener” walked up to the front of the room, banged the gavel, and started speaking. And just like that, everything was engrossed in what was being said. I found out that there was a pre-decided theme of the day, which on that day was “realization”. The “opener” spoke for a couple of minutes about it, giving the audience his view on what realization meant to him. It was short, yet informative. At 6:33 PM, he introduced the “toastmaster” for the evening, whose primary task from then onwards was conducting the meeting. The toastmaster then welcomed all members and paid special attention to the guests for the evening. The guests, or newcomers as I would call us, were given a quick overview of how Toastmasters works, how their goal is to promote public speaking and to help anyone hone their speaking skills. He introduced several key positions for the evening, a person oversaw time-keeping, another one kept track of the grammar being used, while another person counted the number of times a speaker used filler words (“ah”, “umm”, “like”).

And then the session got underway properly. There was a range of speakers for the day; one was doing his first Toastmasters’ speech, while another one was practicing to participate in an international Toastmasters competition. There was also a section where open questions were asked and anyone in attendance could go up and answer. This addressed the impromptu part of public speaking and served as a perfect complement to the previous section where speakers gave prepared speeches.

In the end, the meeting was concluded by reviews given by the “timer”, the “ah-counter”, the “grammarian”, and the general evaluator. Each person’s comments were well-appreciated and applauded. There was even a small prize given to the person who gave the best answer for the open question section.

The last thing that the president of the club did before adjourning the session was to speak to the guests of the evening and made us give our two cents about the experience. I absolutely loved the whole thing and made sure that everyone knew how much I enjoyed.

I would love to join the club and learn the art of public speaking from others and was thoroughly impressed by the ease with which each speaker spoke and the way all constructive criticism was given and taken. I cannot wait to go back next week and I hope that this will be an enriching experience for me going forward.

Places to Go, People to See

by Josiah Bonifas, MBA student

One of the most common concerns expressed by students, outside of school work, is the struggle to meet new people and make new friends. There are about 18,000 students at RIT, and if you take a look around, quite a few faculty and staff, yet it can still feel difficult at times to break outside of your comfort zone and meet new people. Why is this? Well for starters, it can be uncomfortable. To be quite honest, you aren’t going to like everybody you meet, and not everybody is going to like you. But the more people you meet, the better chance you have of meeting someone that you might realize you really get along with.

When I was a freshman in college, I sat at a random table with a bunch of people I had never met. I was always fairly outgoing and enjoyed meeting new people. After about four jokes that went over everybody’s head, I realized, okay these probably aren’t going to be my greatest college friends. But, I still stuck around and made a lot of acquaintances. For the rest of the four years, we always said hello to each other. And if I was ever eating alone, I knew that I could always go sit at their table. It made me feel more comfortable knowing that I knew people. The next day I sat with a new table of people, and one of those guys went on to be one of my closest friends in undergrad. The Lunch room is just one simple way to interact with others. RIT is such a diverse school with countless activities and opportunities to socialize. There are approximately 300 clubs covering almost every activity you can think of. And if there isn’t one that really clicks with you, you can go out and make one! Go to the different events offered on campus, or pick up a new hobby that you’ve always wanted to learn. It’s all about making the first move. If you always wait for things or people to come to you, you face the risk of missing out on countless opportunities. If meeting new people if something you’ve always wanted to do, research some of the clubs or activities we offer on campus. Trust me, it is more than likely that there are people out there with some of the same interest. I had a coach that always repeated the quote to me, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. A week later he was yelling “that’s enough shots”, but the idea still remains the same. Whether it’s with basketball, leaving an answer blank on a test, or meeting someone new — sometimes life’s about taking chances, and being a little uncomfortable.

 

Celebrating Home Culture at RIT

by Kexin ‘Coco’ Wang, Visual Communications Design MFA student

This year the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, fell on October 4th. This festival is when Chinese people worldwide celebrate the end of the harvest season and get together with families and friends. As an international student, I sometimes feel sad to be far away from home during festivals like this, but luckily, the Chinese Student Scholar Association (CSSA) at RIT hosted a Mid-Autumn Festival party during the weekend before the festival, which helped maintain our home culture and also introduced it to a bigger community.

During the party, we played themed games and had some really good traditional mooncake and Chinese food. I was glad to see that the RITCSSA brought us closer while helping us relieve the feeling of homesick and enjoy student life as international students more here.

CSSA is not the only student club that draws the campus community closer – there are actually approximately 300 active clubs on RIT campus! During the New Student Orientation, usually in late August, the school will host a club and organization fair that gives all students the opportunity to check out all of the clubs and activities available on campus and learn more about them. You could check out the Center for Campus Life website for more details. The listing of groups and organizations on campus could also be found here.

I have also heard of a group named Into the ROC, which offers students unique and challenging opportunities to explore the culture in the greater-Rochester community, such as kayaking down the Genesee river and doing some community service with a local non-profit. Free transportation and food are usually generally offered as well during the events! I personally would love to sign up for a trip with them soon and experience life with the community. You could visit their site to find out more details.

So as you can see, there is actually a wide variety of fun and exciting events and activities for students both on and off campus. And even if you don’t see any club that interests you, you may start your own club, and start to recruit your own members to share the same interest! Now go ahead and explore! Good luck!