A couple of weeks ago, I visited Singapore with some friends. This week, we’ll be taking a trip to Jaipur, India, and we may add some more destinations to our itinerary! In the past few months we also had visitors from Malaysia and other areas. How am I able to make so many trips, and how could I possibly stay safe during the COVID pandemic? Simple: these trips have all been made on Zoom. Since First Oakville Toastmasters moved our meetings online in the spring of 2020, our club has made connections with other Toastmasters clubs internationally, and invited some of their members to visit us and speak.
On January 7, our club was pleased to welcome Navin Parwal, a Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) from Singapore (TMI District 80), who shared his speech for a regional contest with us. When we asked him about his speech, Navin told us that he has been visiting a number of different Toastmasters Zoom meetings from various regions of the world to rehearse his speech in front of diverse audiences before competing in the speech contest.
Navin’s ambitious virtual globetrotting made me realize just how many possibilities have been opened up by hosting meetings on Zoom. Although all of us were disappointed when the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to stop meeting in person, it’s safe to say that we would not have prepared to host video speeches from around the world at our club unless we were in our present situation.
All of us are eager to return to in person meetings at our club, but it is undeniable that holding video conference meetings has let us connect, learn and collaborate with a wider range of people than ever before. Logging into a meeting at 7:30 pm (local time) and meeting fellow Toastmasters who were just seeing the sun rise in their homes made me appreciate how widespread Toastmasters clubs are, and more importantly, how we are all united in building up one another’s skills.
I’m grateful to meet with and hear these guest speakers and visitors who have shared their diverse talents with First Oakville Toastmasters, and I look forward to meeting more international guests soon. We hope you’ll join us this Thursday and other Thursdays as we continue travelling the globe virtually. The ability to share meetings with so many talented Toastmasters really is a silver lining in these uncertain times.