Making new friends across the globe as told by Virginia Papadopoulos
I have been a Toastmaster since 2016. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Toastmasters clubs around the world quickly took their club meetings virtual. I began visiting clubs around the world. The first club I attended was Toastmasters of Kifissia, a suburb of Athens, Greece.
The club meets weekly, alternating between Greek-speaking and English-speaking meetings. The club members are warm, welcoming, and brilliant! They embody the Toastmasters spirit! I’ve become friends with many of the members and several have visited clubs in District 48. Michael Fokas, the Vice-President of Public Relations, regularly visits Clearwater Sunday Speakers.
On November 17th, Toastmasters of Kifissia celebrated their 100th English-speaking meeting. Shortly after that meeting, I received a text from Metaxia Kritsidima, their Vice-President of Education, who invited me to be a guest speaker at the Greek-speaking meeting on November 23rd. I accepted the challenge! I have no formal Greek school education and do not read or write the language. My verb conjugation is a Pre-K level at best, but I didn’t let that stop me. With less than a week to write and practice my speech, I did it.
The Toastmaster of the meeting was Katherine Simeonidou, an exuberant and gifted speaker. The previous week, she delivered a speech in English about her Bucket List. Little did she know giving a speech in Greek was on my Bucket List. My speech title was, “My Life is Like a Baklava,” my favorite dessert.
Yes, there were jitters. Yes, I was worried. And yes, I made an error, but I did it!
The club members were kind and supportive. My Evaluator was Metaxia, a seasoned Toastmaster who delivers stellar evaluations. They invited me back to speak again. Perhaps next time my speech will be about the music of moussaka!
Try something new. Take two hours and visit Toastmasters of Kifissia. I love the way they always try new things like book and music reviews as a way to give members without meeting roles a way to speak. On February 10, 2021, Toastmasters International President Richard E. Peck will be visiting the club. They are thrilled and I am excited for them!
Virginia Papadopoulos, DTM, is a member of three clubs in District 48: The Order of Smedley, Toastmasters of Honeywell, and Oldsmar Top of the Morning Toastmasters Club. To find a Toastmasters Club near you, visit www.toastmasters.org/find-a-club.