This past spring, I received a grant from the Center for Service and Global Citizenship (CSGC) to continue my public speaking work, centered around establishing goals and focusing on things under your control.
This year, I am focusing on my immediate community rather than Thailand because cultural differences made it difficult to communicate effectively.
So far, I shared my presentation at two middle schools, speaking to ~250 students of ages between 12 and 15. Excitingly, I have been invited to return next year. Upcoming slots are also scheduled at local Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs.
The presentation centers around finding meaningful goals and never swinging short. It has evolved to suit each audience, adapting to their unique needs. At West Hills STEM Academy, the school placed heavy emphasis on science and mathematics, so I told relevant stories about my research in artificial intelligence and linked them to themes of discipline and perseverance found in my presentation. At Leona Libby Middle School, students were particularly interested in my experiences at the local middle school I attended. I also enjoyed speaking on actionable heuristics: highlighting my aversion to meetings and my love of cycling as examples.
After each presentation, I stayed to answer any questions. This was my favorite part. I talked with all kinds of kids, those who were frustrated with school, those who wanted to know about my projects, and those kids who just wanted to say hi. I met sincere, thoughtful young people coming from the most heartening places.
Future work includes continual rehearsal and refinement of my presentations. I’ve become much more aware of the subtleties involved in effective storytelling and my own present lack of skill, finding that writing and speaking are quite different. I am especially working on polishing the delivery of personal anecdotes because currently, they feel direct. It’s much easier for people to remember stories than maxims. Telling stories is also humanizing, which helps to alleviate my worry that I will come off as self-congratulatory or overbearing.
I would absolutely love to continue these presentations. Sharing my experiences is personally fulfilling, I enjoy talking to the kids, and I am learning skills that I might not have otherwise considered important.
I’d like to sincerely thank Mr. Harganani and Mrs. George for taking a chance on high schooler.
The grant funds have been used for pamphlets, handouts, and wristbands.
Inthat Boonpongmanee ’19