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Language and Learning: Toastmasters

I belong to a local Toastmasters group. This organization has many functions: first of all- skill-based training for better communication, increasing language literacy, learning to speak extemporaneously in a group, but it is most known for helping people overcome the anxiety associated with Public Speaking. We do learn so much more…. here is a beautiful poem from a recent speech on “Kindness”

Kindness

By Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is you must lose things,

feel the future dissolve in a moment like salt in a weakened broth.

What you held in your hand, what you counted and carefully saved,

all this must go so you know how desolate the landscape can be

between the regions of kindness.

How you ride and ride thinking the bus will never stop, the passengers

eating maize and chicken will stare out the window forever.

 

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness you must travel where the

Indian in a white poncho lies dead by the side of the road.

You must see how this could be you, how he too was someone who

journeyed through the night with plans and the simple breath that kept him

alive.

 

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know

sorrow as the other deepest thing.

You must wake up with sorrow.

You must speak to it till your voice catches the thread of all sorrows

and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore, only kindness that ties

your shoes and sends you out into the day to purchase bread, only kindness

that raises its head from the crowd of the world to say It is I you have been

looking for, and then goes with you everywhere like a shadow or a friend.

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