I am "Bạc Hà"

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams" – Eleanor Roosevelt

Vở Kịch Hồi Mẫu Giáo

Hồi mẫu giáo, mỗi năm trường diễn văn nghệ là được kêu làm “người dẫn chuyện”, chắc do cái giọng Bắc lúc đó tương đối còn là hàng hiếm.

Năm 4 tuổi, lớp diễn vở gì đó mà có nhắc đến hai món quà là lửa-gói-trong-giấy và gió-gói-trong-giấy, xong về nhà cứ bị mọi người bắt kể đi kể lại câu chuyện đó, đến mức phát bực, không muốn nhắc đến luôn.

Nhiều năm sau, thỉnh thoảng nhớ lại câu chuyện đó, nhưng nhớ mãi không ra tựa đề câu chuyện/vở kịch, cũng như chưa từng nghe ai nhắc lại câu chuyện này.

Hồi tối, trong lúc ghé thăm cái club Toastmaster nọ, thì có một bà người Mỹ trắng đứng lên kể một câu chuyện cổ tích. Câu chuyện về hai cô gái ở Trung Hoa, tên Lotus Blossom và Moon Flower. Nghe đến đoạn bà mẹ chồng bắt hai cô nếu muốn về thăm bố mẹ thì lúc về phải mang theo hai món quà cho bà, một món là lửa-gói-trong-giấy, món kia là gió-gói-trong-giấy!

Cuối cùng, sau gần 30 năm thì được nghe lại câu chuyện và có dịp để hỏi tựa đề của nó, “The girls who know how to think”, trong một ngôn ngữ và văn cảnh khác.

Cuộc đời luôn là những vòng tròn thú vị.

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Nói Tiếng Mỹ

Chuyện năm 2010:
 
Lúc đó mới qua Mỹ không lâu, trong lúc nấu cháo điện thoại với đứa bạn thì buột miệng hỏi:
– Ê, mày ở đây bao lâu thì nói rành tiếng Mỹ vậy?
– Tới giờ tao cũng có rành đâu. Tiếng của tụi nó, mình làm sao rành được, chỉ rành những gì trong lĩnh vực mình học là được rồi.
 
Nó qua Mỹ từ hồi 15-16 tuổi, ở lúc đó tổng cộng cũng được 7-8 năm rồi. Nó mà còn không rành thì mình biết đến bao giờ…
Chuyện năm 2013:
 
Vài năm trước, có một lần khăn gói đi thi Humorous Speaking. Lúc đó chỉ muốn thử thách bản thân thôi, chớ lúc lên nói cả phòng chắc có chừng hai ba người cười vì lịch sự.
 
Hôm đó có một ông cũng người châu Á lên thi, làm một bài kiểu stand-up, bà con cười cũng nhiều, ngồi dưới nhìn mà ngưỡng mộ và ao ước.
 
Ước xong thì nhớ tới câu đứa bạn nói hồi trước, rồi thở dài…
Chuyện năm 2018:
 
Hôm kia, trong lúc trên đường ghé thăm Club Toastmasters nọ, tranh thủ nhẩm nhẩm trong đầu, soạn một bài speech cho ngày hôm sau.
 
Lúc tới nơi thì có một speaker vắng không dự được, mạnh miệng xung phong xin trám vô chỗ đó. Đàng nào cũng cần phải dượt, lỡ có bể thì cũng không sao. Với thực ra cũng nghe trước là cái club này còn lôi thôi lắm, nên chắc họ không đòi hỏi nhiều.
 
Lúc lên nói, bà con cười rần rần. Có người còn bảo lần đầu tiên nghe một bài ngắn mà có cảm xúc như vậy. Người khác thì nghe mà quên ăn luôn. Họ còn gửi cho đoạn clip để về coi lại.
 
Hôm qua, ở buổi demonstration meeting tại một công ty, phòng lớn và đông hơn, hầu hết đều là người mới, đến dự để quyết định có thành lập một club mới trong công ty của họ hay không. Trước khi bắt đầu họ còn bắt ký tờ release form để cho phép họ ghi hình và trình cho ban giám đốc.
 
Do đã được dợt trước, làm quả còn hoành tráng hơn nữa. Khán giả cười suốt từ đầu đến cuối bài. Có người còn gợi ý nên viết lại thành cuốn sách vì nghe thích quá.
Chuyện năm 2011:
 
Trong một chuyến về Việt Nam và ghé thăm quán café Master’s Cup, gặp một cô gái có giọng nói, với cảm nhận lúc đó, là cực kỳ ‘bản địa’, y như người lớn lên ở nước ngoài.
 
Hỏi thử cô ta xem bí quyết nào mà nói được hay như vậy, vì nhiều bạn bè, người quen người ở Mỹ nhiều năm mà cũng không được như vậy.
 
Cô ta bảo: “Anh đánh vần theo tôi nhé. P.R.A.C.T.I.C.E.” Lúc đó, cũng bán tín bán nghi, vì vẫn cho đó là do năng khiếu.
 
Giờ thì tin rồi.

D.D. Diary: The Candidate Interview

First Chinese Baptists Church in Fountain Valley
February 7, 2018

I had an interview for Division C Director position today. It went OK, but there were plenty of room for improvement. That is why I want to spend some time to put down the questions, my answers, and a better version of the answers that I later came up with, for my own reflection and improvement. Your feedback is also welcomed.

1. What is your most difficult personal problem that hinders you from being a successful division director and how would you overcome it?

My answer: As you may have realized, I am a second-language English speaker and sometimes I cannot explain my idea very clearly. My language has gotten much better a lot during the last 6 years I spent with Toastmasters, and, of course, it will improve even more in the future. Besides, I always want to learn how the system of Toastmasters work and how to serve my role better. I believe my effort will make up well for my weakness.

What I should have said: As you may have realized, I am a second-language English speaker and sometimes I cannot explain my idea very clearly. My language has gotten much better a lot during the last 6 years I spent with Toastmasters, and I will use myself as a lively example of house Toastmasters can transform the life of people like me and encourage them to step up, experience more, and make the most from the program, like I have been doing.

2. What do you think is the District’s problem and what are you going to do about it?
My answer: My answer was a wordy version of the one below.

What I should have said: Membership and Pathway. To be more precise, we do not have enough new members and our current members, including myself a few weeks ago, do not want to progress to Pathway. But after testing the water, I realized Pathway is not only a “career improvement program for Millennials”, it is also our traditional program with a different name and a slightly different order. I will urge our current members the change their mentality and get to know more about the program to refresh themselves and to be ready to help a new wave of younger members in the future.

3. I like your idea about Pathway, but how do you solve the District’s membership problems?

My answer: We lose the most club at the beginning of a new term, when area directors just take the office and are still figuring out what they have to do. So I will have my area directors learn about their clubs before they even start their term so they can be prepared. Besides, there is a program that I am currently promoting at my club called the Speaker Exchange. Smaller clubs, like mine, can offer a speaking opportunity to members from crowding clubs who cannot wait to their turn give speech in their home club. That will bring new ideas and create more activities at smaller clubs which will help to stabilize their membership base. When we stop losing clubs, the area directors will be able to focus more on founding new clubs.

4. How would you develop your area director?

My answer: First, I would pick them early and send them to the current area directors so they can have a first hand experience of their job. I will also connect them with experienced leaders, like all of you here, so they know who to seek for advice.

What I should have said: I could add a third point, “I will encourage them to take an active role above the area level and organize think tank events where they can share their own problems and contribute solutions for others’”

5. You were talking about connecting your area directors to the senior leaders, but how would you, yourself, help your area directors?

My answer: My answer was a wordy version of the one below.

What I should have said: I will sit down and set goals with them. I will make sure they have assistants to share the burden, I will remind them regularly about the progress and our target. When all fail, like fate occasionally do to us, I will step up, take it over, until I can find a replacement.

6. How do you use TI dashboard to improve your club?

My answer: Since I am no longer a district officer during the last two years, I no longer have access to many features provided by the dashboard and do not use it much. However, I do know the website provides a lot of helpful resources and they are under utilized by the majority of Toastmasters members. So, as a division director, I will organize educational events to make sure the club members are more familiar with the dashboard as well as the Pathway base camp.

What I should have said: When I was an area director, I spent a lot of time browsing the dashboard and play with its features. I found it was a great resource and regularly share what I thought was useful to the club officers in my area. Though the majority of Toastmasters I know rarely touch it, they will likely have more exposure to the new system, thanks to the Pathway program. All we need to do is to organize interactive educational events to facilitate it.

7. Do you have experience in mentoring or sponsoring a club? Or do you have any idea on how to start a new club?

My answer: Club mentoring and sponsoring is the last item in my Advanced Leadership Silver requirements and I am having a very hard time to get it done. But I do have an idea on how to start new clubs, inspired by what we are doing at my home club. We are Historically Speaking, a specialized club, and we almost forgot that fact. A few months ago, I spoke up and asked our club members to embrace some history into their speech. Since then, we had guests visiting our club and they were impressed by our historical topics. Some of them were returning Toastmasters and they liked it better than a general meeting. I strongly believe that specialized clubs will have a better chance to bring people together and keep them longer.

8. Regarding to your idea about specialized clubs, we have photography, we have wine tasting, what else should we have?

My answer: My answer was a wordy version of the one below.
What I should have said: There are hundreds of hobbies that can inspire a new club. Music, sport, traveling, etc. I am a fan of paintings and sculptures, if some of you share this interest, let’s get together and start a club. What are you strongly passionate about? We may start a Toastmasters club specialized on that topic too.

—-

Phew, that was a whole lot of impromptu speeches I had to make in 20 minutes. But it was such a rewarding and fruitful interview session. I have learned much more about myself, Toastmasters, and what I truly want to achieve here.

P.S., The District Officers Committee included Pan, Siri, Harry, Kathy, Randy, Norm, Frannie, and another person that I can no longer recall at the moment.

D.D. Diary – The Call

From: Randy
To: DJ, HM, DB, KM, MC and 3 more…

Dec 11, 2017 at 2:44 PM

All,

Frannie told me yesterday that nobody has stepped up to apply to be next year’s Division C Director. Ali is this year’s Director, but there apparently is no successor for him at this point, and the District is looking for someone. Frannie asked me to pass around the word. Does any one of you have an interest? All of you are naturals for this position, given your experience and talents! If you are interested, I can give your name to the District. Later, probably around February, the District Nominating Committee will interview candidates (several positions have multiple candidates, but not the Division C Director position).

Thanks,

DJ responded first, saying:

I have done it already—hope one of you will “throw your hat in the ring!”

Then, CG said:

Randy,

I appreciate the offer and if I were mobile that may be a consideration but until I can get a driver’s license and pass a health exam the option is out of the question.

I would still consider mentoring a club remotely.

It does sound like the call for me, so I said:

Hi Randy,

Thanks for spreading the word. You can count me in.

Minh

And that is when the story begins.

Speaking To Inform – The Abstract Concept

What Is Yours Is Mine

I am a Millennial, and, according to the media, I should not own a car, instead, I should lease it. Oops, my bad, this the Baby Boomer Tribune. I told my Mom a thousand times that she should never mess up with my phone. Pardon me. Oh right, there it is. According to the media, people like me no longer own a car, we Uber.

Mr. Toastmasters, fellow Toastmasters, and honored guest.

The Era of “Sharing Economy” has arrived and will stay for good! No matter whether you like it or not, it is time for us to get to know about it.

Sharing Economy is used specifically for a peer-to-peer business model which allows individuals to rent or borrow underused assets owned by someone else in the form of service.

Let’s start with an example. Your youngest kid is admitted to a college in San Francisco. When he tells you the news, you think, yeah, I am going to rent out his room so I don’t have to worry about the car payment anymore. Then he says: “I know you will miss me a lot, so I will definitely come home on summer and winter and maybe some weekends too.” “Oh, great,” you say to him, and deep inside, you painfully kiss your landlord dream goodbye.

Not really, your other option is to access to a website called AirBNB.com, list your son’s room for $60 per night, black out the winter and summer break, and tell your son that he should let you know two weeks in advanced whenever he plans to come home so you can black out those days as well.

The day after, you get a booking request from a couple from San Francisco and the message says: “Hello, we are looking for a clean and quiet room for 2 nights while we visit our sister in Orange County and we your room seems to be a perfect match.” You spend a moment to read their profile. They are mid age, they travel a lot, and, most important, they get a lot of good words from the owners of where they stayed. It does not look like they will be able to do any harm to your family or your son’s room, so you accept the booking and make your first $120 as a Sharing Economy landlord.

Be it your car, your house, or the drill sitting idly in your toolbox—as long as you are willing to make it accessible—there is a sharing platform for you to put it up and earn an income. In the other hand, if you are in needs of such assets, you can easily get access to one, normally, with a cheaper price than you can get from a company provides a similar service.

There are two main reasons that drive the surge of the Sharing Economy, the technologies of the Internet and the Minimalism Lifestyle Movement amongst the Millennials.

Human have been sharing resources since pre-history, but most of the time we shared it with someone we know. The Internet allows us to reach a wider circle, people we do not know but are relatively predictable from the reviews of a large amount of people with whom they used to share the resources.

Bernard Marr, a best-selling author on business, technology and big data, points out that in the last century, owning things was the “trophies” of the middle class. But as manufacturing became less expensive, owning plenty of things is no longer a good indicator of their relative wealth. As millennials enter adulthood and the middle class, the new trend is to own less stuff and focus on experience. The advent of the digital and sharing economies have made this much easier.

Of course, not everyone is happy about the Share Economy. Taxi drivers and hotel chains lose a lot of business to their Share Economy Competitors; The union keep arguing about how the service providers should be treated; And the governments demand a share of the money circulating in this Economy.

But as long as resources are utilized more efficiently and the stuffs are available at a cheaper price, the Sharing Economy will stay for good. Mr. Toastmasters.


The 5th project in my Toastmasters Advanced Communication Manual – Speaking To Inform

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