Dorm 5B marched into the Dwight Armstrong Performing Arts Conservatory on Thursday morning, July 25, to face their fears and practice effective communication in their third and final Philadelphia Youth Camp speech class.
Speech instructor Ryan Malone started class a few minutes early and called upon Ezra to deliver a three-minute icebreaker since he had been sick when the rest of his dorm gave theirs the previous speech class. Ezra informed the tiny audience that he speaks both English and Spanish, daily endures the bad traffic of Los Angeles to attend public school, and enjoys the beach, travel, photography, movies, art and musicals.
Then, 5B counselor-turned-toastmaster Warren Reinsch took charge of the main course: 11 six-minute speeches. Assistant Samuel Nicholson sat in the back next to Mr. Malone and silently notified each speaker of the time via hand signals.
Garret was the first to give a six-minute speech. His comedic timing, awkward facial expressions, and deadpan humor kept me basically crying from laughter as he listed reasons we should visit Canada: animals (beaver, moose, Canada goose), food (snow-cones with maple syrup, poutine), and sports (Toronto Raptors, Toronto Blue Jays, and the Canadian Football League, which is, of course, better than the National Football League and perhaps more patriotic even toward the United States).
Micah (not my brother) talked about the passive and active forms of procrastination. Passive procrastination includes avoiding important tasks by turning to frivolous distractions. Active procrastination involves putting off desires to take care of the most important responsibilities.
Luke regaled his dormmates with “Lessons from Jimmy Doolittle and His Team,” a group of American pilots who showed selflessness, courage and determination in bombing Japan in 1942 despite knowing they didn’t have enough fuel in their planes to return to the aircraft carrier.
Jonathan provided “Lessons from a Michelin Star Restaurant.” He works as a dishwasher at the only such prestigious restaurant in the Netherlands and has learned to work hard, become skilled and follow government.
Justus summarized “The Ancient History of Crypto Currency,” explaining how natives on a Micronesian island exchanged verbal claims to gigantic, immovable stones 1000 years ago. These stones couldn’t be counterfeited or stolen, so they doubled as a safe, reliable form of currency.
Ezra, in his second speech of the period, warned of the dangers of dehydration. According to his statistics, 75 percent of people in the U.S. are dehydrated, and 37 percent regularly mistake thirst for hunger. He advised drinking a glass of water to stave off late-night hunger, and downing at least five glasses of water daily to decrease the risk of health scourges like kidney stones, colon cancer, breast cancer and bladder cancer. His effective speech persuaded me to drink lots of water throughout each day rather than guzzling large amounts all at once, and to avoid sports drinks and caffeine for the most part.
Fernando from Peru praised America in a speech titled “Union Makes Strength.” Daniel expounded on “True Grit” by telling the story of Canadian private Leo Major, who took risks and faced major adversity behind German lines in World War ii, liberating an entire Dutch town by himself.
Samuel elucidated on “The Power of the Air,” recognized by U.S. brigadier general Billy Mitchell during World War i—years before the U.S. military placed much value on fighting in the skies. He warned of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor 15 years in advance, though no one listened to him. As Samuel related, God’s young people should be willing to go to extremes to support the warning message, even if that message falls on deaf ears.
Zachary showed “How Winston Churchill Saved the World”: by recognizing the enemy, studying the enemy, and taking action. After his speech, Mr. Malone asked Fernando to give his speech again, this time in his first language, Spanish. Fernando was noticeably more comfortable the second time around, using more gestures, speaking louder, and taking up an extra minute.
To conclude the class, Mr. Malone evaluated each speaker and gave lots of valuable advice, including overemphasizing each point since the audience wasn’t taking notes (I was), solving procrastination by clearing your desk and placing the most important task directly in your way on the keyboard or in some other prominent position, and writing out detailed speaking notes like Churchill did but not reading from them since this adversely affects pitch and tone.
Samuel won a ticket for best performance. I left the building.