Bridging Cultures: Toastmasters at the Eggroll Festival in Arlington

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With growing U.S. diversity, one in five U.S. residents or 61.8 million people now speaks a foreign language at home (data from the 2013 American Community Survey (ACS)).  Many face challenges in adjusting to unfamiliar cultural norms and communication barriers.  I proudly admit, I was one of them.

As a person who speaks English as a second language, speaking with an accent and not being able to intelligibly express myself in English have sabotaged my confidence and opportunities in this country.  The language barrier forced me to seek improvement and I found Toastmasters.  Since I joined the ARBOR Toastmasters in the Fall of 2013, a new chapter of my life has begun.

ARBOR Toastmasters Club makes me feel warmly welcomed and that I am part of the team.  The friendly environment helped me feel more comfortable expressing my ideas in public. I kept forcing myself to complete project after project and gradually smash my fear of publicly speaking in English.  The support from the members fostered my leadership skills and encouraged me to take the various leadership positions in the club. 

My journey with Toastmasters has given me the priceless reward of confidence.  Even though I might still speak with an accent for the rest of my life, I’m now confident that I can effectively communicate in English.

I’m eager to share my life changing experience via Toastmasters with other speakers of English as a secondary language by communicating, if I can, they can too.  I always have a vision of other Asian American like myself getting more involved and receiving the benefits from Toastmasters.

The Eggroll Festival in Arlington TX was a great opportunity to reach out to many diverse Asian cultures.  Having a Toastmasters booth there not only gave us great publicity for the club and Toastmasters, but it also sent a message “Toastmasters is open for YOU TOO even though you might not speak perfect English”.   

I’m thankful to have wonderful support from the club and the many members who volunteered to promote the club at the event.  The MC for the event complimented us and noted the benefits of Toastmasters to the audience several times.  The event was beautiful and so much fun! The countless cultural shows from many Asian Countries were amazing!  The food (many were free) was incredible.  Of course, everyone filled up with plenty of eggrolls. And most importantly, collected wonderful memories. 

Submitted by Sarinya Oliver