The Kiyose International Club is a volunteer group that hosts events and parties for foreigners and neighbouring guests as well as also having Japanese classes, a choir and conferences for foreigners. One of my students is in charge of organising these events and often asks me in class to check posters and speeches for English mistakes. Inevitably, she got round to asking me to be a presenter at one of these events such is their desperation for native English speakers at these things!! Though not so keen at first I eventually agreed to do it as I was happy with the topic and having bored her this last year with tales from my trips she knew I was a seasoned traveller with a few anecdotes up my sleeve to keep an audience awake!
Furthermore, I saw it as a challenge and an opportunity to do something different and see if I could actually entertain to any level beyond doing farting noises with a few five year olds!! It’s been a while since I did any kind of presentation. Ages in fact, as the last time was at University over 15 years ago when I had to regularly do them as part of my course.
‘My Travel Memories‘ was the theme for the one today (17th November) with the “My” referring to each attendee as well as the guest speakers. Having informed the organiser that I wanted to do it about my trip to Tunisia in 2009 she thankfully gave it the green light and so my plan began to tell the story of travelling around a country in what was at the time for me an untouched continent. Oh and of course it gave me the chance to incorporate a bit of Star Wars stuff into the proceedings too!
This was certainly not a Star Wars convention so I had to keep that part to a minimum and so instead focused on the other parts of the country (above) which often get forgotten about (especially by me!). My presentation was supposed to last about seven minutes but was more like 11 minutes with the first segment focusing on the nightmare of my birthday travelling between Tunis in the north and Tozeur in the south.
In the days preceding this event I spent a fair bit of time putting together some notes, remarks and photos together into a flashy Google Drive document but once I’d realised I would need wi-fi to go ahead with that I changed it to a more simplified iPhoto slide show. I needn’t have bothered though as on my arrival at the Naka-Kiyoto Area Civic Center we soon realised that there wasn’t the right cable to connect my laptop to the giant projector screen. I was a bit peeved with that not that I was ever really confident of such a thing ever working smoothly. Time for plan B!!
The event started at 2pm with my student giving the opening remarks followed by a few more speeches before the session leader David introduced us presenters and the foreigners present including people from Afghanistan, Korea, Philippines, Zambia and Thailand. Following a short discussion on our tables an elderly Japanese guy Matsumoto-san (below left) kicked things off with his presentation about his time in Egypt with the main focus being the tipping culture differences.
A summary of my speech was given in Japanese beforehand (above right) which I thought a bit strange as it’s kind of a spoiler but I guess it has to be done to prepare the non-native speakers for what was about to come. Despite not being able to use the big screen for my presentation I decided to use my computer still though many would have needed binoculars to see what was on screen! I did have some larger copies of some of my pictures which I could hand to my student to show to the watching audience of fairly well-travelled people.
The speech seemed to go on for far longer than in my rehearsals but that didn’t matter. My voice just about managed to hold up for the duration and I got through everything I wanted to. The set-up wasn’t quite how I envisaged it but I muddled through and was just about able to juggle holding the mic in one hand, cue cards in the other whilst also having to do some technical wizardry on the computer (hit a button a dozen times or so!) which was facing the audience rather than me.
It was a shame I couldn’t use the big screen to display stuff as that meant I had to rely more than ever on my scripted “ad-libs” working better than they should have had to. I soldiered on though and thankfully there were a few questions at the end (about tipping, food & health, misunderstandings and something else which I forget) rather than silence!
Once I had done my presentation I could relax far more and really enjoyed talking in our groups about our own travels not that I added any further by way of my other experiences. The final presentation was by a Filipino lady called Rosevel (below) who gave a very entertaining and passionate speech on the cultural gap between her homeland and Japan. She put me to shame in terms of not showing her nerves so much but I guess she was performing on home turf whilst I was in unknown waters.
Overall, I had a lovely afternoon and it was nice to do something a bit different for once and I left with a very positive image of all those present who were very nice and welcoming to me and, though I thought I was a bit nervous at times, the feedback I got was all positive…not that you’d expect anyone to come up and say it was rubbish!!