Dalar Nazarian of Praxair Toastmasters
By Keith Maderer, Club Growth Director
During this past year, I had the opportunity to visit many Club, Area, Division contests. I saw many great speeches and was moved by several of them. One such speech was given by Dalar Nazarian of the Praxair Toastmasters at the Area 13 Contest. I asked Dalar if she would share her message with our district. I hope you find it as moving as I did. Here is Dalar’s story, in her own words.
How Words And A Voice Can Hurt… And Heal
By Dalar Nazarian – R&D Cryogenic Systems at Praxair, Inc
Speaking Out About Paper Cuts and the Healing Powers of a Toastmasters Speech
Seduced by Toastmasters’ promise to build me into a confident communicator and leader, I eagerly joined Praxair’s Toastmaster club in early 2017. To my delightful surprise, I’ve gained much more than just communication skills. Toastmasters has given me a vehicle to reflect, communicate, and execute. Because of Toastmasters, I more regularly reflect on the choices I make, the interactions I have, and the work I do. I share pieces of my life with fellow toastmasters through impassioned speeches. I find partners in unlikely places and become inspired to take action. My speech for the 2018 Spring International Speech Contest is just one example of this kind of Toastmasters journey.
This journey started on a stressful Sunday before I had to give my CC-6 speech at our lunchtime Toastmasters meeting. Out of ideas, I started to sort through the filing cabinets of my mind for any experience that had left me feeling passionate. Meanwhile, my mind was burdened with an infuriating experience I had that the day before. Since I could not shake the frustration, I decide to write about my experience as a speech. For hours I typed vigorously, at times stopping to stare at the ceiling in reflection and occasionally shedding a few tears. At the end of this process, I not only had a speech that brought me to the Area 13 International Speech Contest, but also a healing experience.
My speech titled, Paper Cuts, dealt with what it’s like to be a young girl trying to pursue your passions and take leadership in a world filled with micro-insults (paper cuts). In my six weeks of mentoring high school students to build a robot, I had watched my female mentees slowly lose confidence and passion as they dodged a series of unacceptable comments and actions by their male peers. Things like questioning the ability of the young girls and speaking over them when they tried to take a stance. These were incidents that were so small that it felt ridiculous to speak out about them. Yet these incidents happened so frequently that they became tiresome. While the young men in the group were not aware of the impact of their actions, the young girls clearly felt the burden of the dynamic between the sexes, experiencing what is commonly known as death by a thousand paper cuts. This left me recounting experiences I had when I was their age and wondering, in anger and hopelessness, if things will even change. Only through the process of writing my speech did I realize that things are changing. I realized that this change has to do with me and my counterparts. We as mentors are now aware of what these young women go through and we can help them speak up. We can help heal their paper cuts, one at a time, so that these brilliant girls can retain their passion and become future leaders.
Sharing my speech with fellow Toastmasters was inspiring. I had the chance to introduce some listeners to a new perspective on the issue and connect with other listeners over a shared frustration. After giving my speech at the Area 13 competition, I made connections with fellow toastmasters across the district who also care about and work in the realm of empowering young girls who want to pursue a science and engineering career. After the process of writing and delivering a single speech for Toastmasters I found myself empowered and excited about the potential collaborations on the horizon.