Wednesday, May 25, 2011

From Zero to Hero

Last night marked a challenge in public speaking as I am sure many of my cohorts can attest to.
Being recognized by the Hercules City Council was actually a surprise to me. I understand that Hercules is swarming with hot issues and topics that need to be addressed, so it was an honor to be acknowledged by its members.

Unlike many of my fellow students who have lived in Hercules for much of their childhood, I still consider myself a "newcomer" in the neighborhood because I only moved in 6 years ago. While it may seem like more than enough time to become settled with my surroundings, there are so many things in this city that are completely foreign to me. I wouldn't be lying if I said that I felt like I didn't belong up there with my fellow ILC members from Hercules.

After wonderful words presented by Charles Ramsey and Terri Ishmael, I was the first of the students who had to stand up and speak. Presenting myself in public is something I am easily used to as I believe I am a highly outgoing, carefree, and eccentric person. However, my nervousness and intimidation shot up for three reasons.

One of them is the fact that my own family was there. While I am a very perky person, I trivially grow shy and quiet whenever I am in front of my family. One of the more legitimate reasons was that I had to speak to city administrators, which is something I have never experienced before. The last reason is that I am associated with a title as I spoke and that happened to be the Ivy League Connection. I do admit that I embarrass myself in public many times and as long as it makes people laugh and be happy, it is generally something that makes me feel happy as well. Unfortunately, such an odd liberty can no longer be granted when I am a part of an organization. If I make a fool out of myself, it makes a fool out of everyone in the ILC and I most definitely don't want that to happen.

I will admit that I grew quite envious throughout the night when people on the council and in the crowd would chuckle and laugh at the various things they said. I had a sincere anecdote and joke planned that I hoped would have garnered an amusing reception from the audience, but it fizzled out so quickly I think it may have been borderline-offensive.

But all jokes aside, the one thing I realized from this experience is that I am truly a part of this community. The fact the Council would recognize us like this and put off some valuable time to do so shows that our city appreciates us not because we might be outstanding students, but that we are Herculeans.

An Attempt at Public Speaking

As much as I respect the City Council, the meetings were never my thing.  They tended to be long, tedious, and I could barely understand what was being discussed.
That being said, it was rather strange to speak in front of the Hercules City Council on Tuesday night.  Public speaking has never been my forte, but in this case, people wanted to listen to what I had to say.  Or at least, it seemed that way, and that was enough motivation for me.

I do not think I felt any nervousness as I lined up behind the podium.  Nor did I feel anything as I became next in line to speak.  But once I walked up to the microphone, stared at my speech card for ideas, I could not help but feel afraid that I would make a blunder, a careless mistake in relaying how much this opportunity meant to me.

So, I did what any good public speaker does -- speak spontaneously, from what I could feel.  Not that I had many other options, the speech that I had in my head had been thrown out of the window as soon as I walked up to the podium.

I spoke about old aspirations, first impressions, great friends, and life-changing experiences.  Being me, I always had the ending planned out, and thus, I spoke about the future, and how I cannot wait for it.

Of course, all of the ILC members from Hercules spoke in front of the City Council.  And as has been customary the past few weeks, the speaking portion ended with Yueming Wang's thoughts of going to Cornell next school year, as well as Mr. Charles Ramsey's reiteration of the difficult process the candidates went through, as well as the intention to attract colleges to look at "not only Berkeley and Palo Alto," but Hercules as well.
As I listened to Terilyn's conversation about who she was, Beilul's carefully prepared speech that cited her experience, and Kathleen's readiness to represent Hercules, I reflected on the past seven months, since Ms. Ishmael first called in students to meet about the Ivy League Connection.  And to be honest, despite the hard work, the pains, and the bipolar joys of these past few months, I do not think I would trade them for anything.

And I really wouldn't.