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Posts about all of the meetings.

This Saturday, Embracing Cultures is excited to be welcoming a guest speaker to the meeting. This meeting will be held at our usual time and place: Saturday, June 19, from 10:30am-11:45am at 4115 SW 160th Avenue, Beaverton, Oregon 97007 in the white house.
Toastmaster and nurse Rita Batchley will be visiting us from California and will be addressing the following topics:
*What your hospital bill is not telling you
*Your patient rights
*How you can protect yourself.
Rita Batchley is not your ordinary RN. She is a teacher, author, and speaker, who happens to believe that nurses hold the key to real healthcare reform. Since graduating from nursing school over 28 years ago, Nurse Batchley has helped to bring more than 3,000 babies into the world and now, in her breakout novel Labor Pains, she delivers a gripping tale that breathes life into the spirit of nursing. This timely story is sure to be loved by today’s nurses as well as those yearning to be delivered into a world where the primary ingredient in medicine is caring.
Known by her colleagues as “The Nurses’ Nurse,” Rita has dedicated her life to support comprehensive, affordable health care and she tells the truth about corporate medicine as only someone with her experiences can.
Hope you will join us!

We hope everyone had a restful and memorable July 4th weekend! At Embracing Cultures, we took the weekend off to allow our members to spend the holiday with our families, but we came right back into the swing of things for July 12th’s meeting.

Liana, our new club President as of July 1st, delivered a speech in which she laid out her goals and desires for the group from now to December. She included a new motto for the group: “Learners by nature, leaders through practice.”

We also heard an updated mission statement: “Embracing Cultures Toastmasters is a group of diverse women who believe that personal growth in the domains of leadership, communication, and public speaking are a natural result of mutual learning, honest feedback, and mentoring. We support one another in a safe environment where all issues are discussed openly, particularly the topic of what it means to be a woman in various geographical, political, and social contexts.”

Liana emphasized the importance of participation and commitment from all members. She also informed us that she plans on improving our education program and member recruitment.

Humaira contributed to this new vision, as she delivered a speech about a workshop series that the group will be hosting in the fall. She was persuasive and inspiring. We will all help her to the best of our ability in planning, marketing, and executing this exciting series, and we hope to get many attendees!

Happy summer to all! I hope you’re all out and enjoying the sunshine.

The Embracing Cultures Toastmasters club had a warm, supportive, and comfortable meeting on Saturday. Our theme was comfort foods from around the globe. This was Anesa’s first time serving as Toastmaster, and she truly did an impressive job. Impeccable preparation and delivery.

Anna gave her second speech from the Competent Communicator manual. The subject was photography, clearly a hobby close to her heart. She was informative, knowledgeable, and passionate about the topic. I think everyone in the room learned a new tip to improve their own family and vacation pictures. I’ll attempt to implement the rule of thirds and account for eye movement across the image while documenting my camping trip this weekend! Thanks for an info-packed speech, Anna!

Our table topics were all about comfort foods. Brenda served as our dynamic Table Topics Master, and Humaira evaluated. Anesa taught us about a plum liqueur familiar to her fellow Bosnians, our guest Smiti talked about looking forward to the Kenyan BBQ she’d be attending that night, Lorri entertained us with her Friday night decompressing routine, and Ayesha informed us of the laborious duty that is preparing for the evening fast-breaking of Ramadan. Brenda also contributed by exposing her deep adoration for fried Indian samosas. My mouth was watering throughout!

food globe

Note that we will not be having a meeting on July 5th to allow our members to observe Independence Day with their families and friends. Please take time to appreciate the diversity that we are blessed with as Americans! Our meetings will resume on July 12th. As the new club President, I will be presenting and leading a discussion about my goals for my six-month tenure. I hope you all can make it to contribute your ideas! Everyone is welcome!

As an homage to Father’s Day, which took place yesterday, Saturday’s meeting theme was parenting across cultures. As most of our members are mothers, this was a hot topic loaded with opinions and values.


During my opening as Toastmaster, I raised the point that in the US, mainstream thinking about parenting has relied on studies of Caucasian and Western cultural beliefs. But I emphasized that because America is so ethnically diverse, it is important to understand parent-child relationships across cultures and the world.

I asked the audience to keep the concept of cultural relativism in mind. Relativism is the name for the theory that there are no absolutes, truths, or validity in points of view. Rather, what we deem to be “truths” are actually relative to our language and culture. Thus, what we see to be “truth” is actually subjective, a perception, an opinion.

Folks examining parenting styles through the lens of cultural relativism would say that no one style is better or worse than another, but rather is completely colored by the culture and language in which the parents are living.

I encourage you to take a moment to think about your own parents and your parenting style. How have your culture, ethnicity, or religion affected your behaviors or beliefs?

culture flowchart

Thanks to everyone that showed up and participated on Saturday.

Rehana’s speech about her pregnancy and labor was entertaining, humorous, and creatively involved the audience and a prop! Anna completed her Icebreaker speech and told us about the meaning of her name. She provided us with a glimpse into her life and personality. Anna is indeed the personification of a willow – resilient and strong. Impressive first speech!

Everyone participated in giving Table Topics responses about motherhood and child-bearing, even Humaira’s adorable daughter. We learned about some unusual parenting practices across the globe – fascinating!

We hope to see you next week!

Our meeting this past Saturday was informative, inspiring, entertaining, and emotional – everything a Toastmasters meeting should be! Thanks to everyone that attended, we had a wonderful turnout.

Particular thanks goes to Stephanie, who served for the first time as Toastmaster. She got us ready for bikini season as the meeting theme was Summer Vacation. She did a fabulous job keeping us to time, transitioning between speakers, and offering comments at the start and finish. And she did all of this with her signature enthusiasm and smile! Impressive for a first-timer!

Anesa delivered her Ice-Breaker, which opened with a stunning African tribal chant that she learned from her college singing group, Abusua (ah-BOO-soo-ah). She stated that Abusua performed traditional songs and dances from Ghana, West Africa. Anesa further explained that “Abusua” means family. She went on to discuss how her time in this singing and drumming group served as a spiritual awakening for her and taught her values that still guide her life today. Anesa told us a liberating story about how she declared independence for herself and is following her passions with abandon. Great message, Anesa! We’re so happy to have you in our group!

african textile

Liana was our second speaker. She delivered a persuasive speech and attempted to involve us in child mentoring. She appealed to our logic by offering facts about the long-lasting and deeply influential impact a mentor can have on a kid in need. Liana recently became a mentor herself and has already found it to be a rewarding, confidence-boosting experience. If you are interested in exploring mentoring possibilities for yourself and your family, please visit the Oregon Mentors or Hands on Portland websites. There are plenty of ways to help your community just by being yourself!


Our Table Topics were on the subject of summer vacations to get us in the spirit of the upcoming season. Members Stephanie, Humaira, and Samreen contributed, and even our guest Nida accepted the challenge! Nida, we loved your story about your first trip away from home and it brought back memories from our own childhoods. You are a natural for our group and we hope you return!

During our short business meeting, we held our 6-month officer elections – exciting! Here are the results:

President – Liana
Vice President of Education – Brenda
Vice President of Public Relations – Anesa
Vice President of Membership – Samreen
Secretary – Rehana
Treasurer – Brenda
Sergeant of Arms – Ayesha


Ladies, thanks so much for stepping up and taking on a leadership role! We’re going to have a successful and ground-breaking term!

Thanks to the Future Stars club for welcoming our members to their end-of-the-year celebration this weekend! It was a big party that lasted for hours, complete with a Table Topics contest, awards, and a big potluck lunch. Our members loved seeing the young folks’ enthusiasm and dedication to improving their leadership and communication skills. Keep up the good work, kids! You are shining examples of the good that can come from cooperative learning!


For more information on the Future Stars club, take a look here. They are a group of middle and high school aged youth that meet weekly to work on both prepared and improvised speeches. If you’re a mother looking to get involved in our Embracing Cultures Toastmasters club, Future Stars is a great place to bring your child while you attend our meeting. The meetings take place at the same time and right next to one another! Talk about convenience! Their meetings will start up again in the fall when school is back in session.

In the meantime, I urge you to visit Embracing Cultures. There is value in joining a Toastmasters group specifically for women. As many of the members are mothers, you’ll find the environment is warm and nurturing. Letting your guard down is essential for learning to take place, and many women find they are more comfortable, honest, and vulnerable when they are among women. Come pay us a visit and see if we are the right fit for you!

Last Saturday’s meeting included five guests! It was wonderful meeting some new ladies, all of whom enthusiastically participated in our round of Table Topics. Congrats on taking the first Toastmasters step! We would love to see you again in the future.

Thanks to Lorri, who served as our Toastmaster of the Day and provided us with a variety of interesting facts on the day’s theme of Memorial Days around the World. Stephanie, in addition to reprising her fascinating speech “In Memory of Me,” acted as our Table Topics Master. We all learned a little about memorial traditions around the world, and also had the opportunity to discuss how we celebrate the holiday here in the US. Again, thanks to the guests that were so courageous!

memorial day

This coming week, elections will take place. Let us know if you’d like to serve as one of Embracing Cultures’ Officers. For a full list of the roles and a description of the responsibilities, take a look at this list: TM Club Officer Roles and Responsibilities. Note that as an Officer, you have the full support of the remainder of the club members and can always call on them for assistance. Toastmastering is about team effort and mutual, group-driven learning. Taking on an Officer role is a perfect way to develop your leadership skills, so take a leap and put your name on the ballot!


Saturday was our big District 7 Conference. Many of our ladies were involved in the conference either because they were part of the planning or they were supportive audience members. As a result, our regular meeting was a bit light in attendance. However, this served as an opportunity to provide one another with extended feedback! We were able to provide Round Robin evaluations after both the prepared speech and the Table Topics. A rare and valuable opportunity!

Our theme for the day was “Firsts,” and we had many! Stephanie did an impressive job on her Icebreaker speech. She has done more travelling in her short life than some retired folk! Stephanie wove the theme of languages throughout her speech. As a result, the audience learned about her personality, her hobbies, and her skills. A thoughtful and well-organized speech! All in attendance admired her poise and confidence. We look forward to hearing a future speech from her in a foreign language! 😉

Anna also did a wonderful job with her first evaluation. The audience was inspired by her calm presence and her ability to talk about what positively affected her from Stephanie’s words and delivery. Anna also did an excellent job pointing out some areas of improvement for Stephanie – truly exciting for such a new member! Nice job ladies!

pat on the back

What made this meeting so moving is that the audience was able to witness two ladies take their first steps on their Toastmasters journeys. There is so much potential for growth if we jump fearlessly into the TM waters as these women did on Saturday.

Interested to see where the path leads? Take a look at the TM Educational Program. This document shows the steps a new member takes on her way to becoming a Distinguished Toastmaster. We receive help and guidance from our peers throughout – it is a true mutual learning environment. Let’s all grow together!

Thanks to everyone that contributed to our interactive meeting on May 10th. The theme of the day was “Holidays,” and we all learned quite a bit about international celebrations. Brenda served as our Toastmaster and Lorri delivered an educational prepared speech that covered various types of leadership. Rehana stumped us with Table Topics questions that guided us around the world. We heard about Cinco de Mayo, Diwali, Eid, and Oktoberfest.

Rehana also brought up some more obscure festivities. Did you know that in the Philippines, New Year’s is celebrated with polka dots, circles, and coins, all of which represent good luck and riches? In Finland, there is a fortune-telling holiday where metal is melted and subsequently poured into a bucket of snow or ice-cold water. After the metal solidifies, the shape is held up to a light. The shadow cast by the metal chunk is representative of one’s fortune. Fascinating! Thanks to Rehana for the thought-provoking questions, and thanks to everyone that participated in answering!


While Saturday’s Table Topics answers were well-crafted and humorous, many Toastmasters fear this section of the meeting even more than the prepared speeches. At least with the speeches, we can think of something to say in advance and bring our notes! But with the Table Topics, we are asked to think on our feet, be organized, funny, and entertaining – all with just seconds’ notice!

So how can we feel better prepared to conquer the dreaded impromptu speech? Here are some tips:

– We can always buy time by pausing, taking a breath, and then thanking the Table Topics Master and audience. After this, we can simply begin by restating the question as a statement. This serves as a good introduction to the mini-speech.

– We can buy ourselves even more time by discussing what makes answering the question difficult. We can describe the delicacy of the hypothetical situation, or talk about how we imagine the scene would look.

– We can talk about what we know. If the question posed is about an unfamiliar topic, we can transition into something we are more comfortable with.

– We can make the answer up. If someone is asked about his children and he does not have any kids, he can use his imagination and describe his fictional children. He can be completely outrageous and unrealistic! Sometimes these crazy answers are the most humorous.

– We can remember our organizational skills learned from the prepared speeches. Table Topics answers, though impromptu, should still have an introduction, body, and conclusion. At the end, reiterate the question and main idea.

– We can be enthusiastic! Even the most boring and trite questions can be answered creatively and with emotion. Adding passion and feeling to Table Topics answers brings the audience in.

– Most importantly:

have fun

Thank you to all of the members and distinguished guests that took time out of their Saturdays to attend the Embracing Cultures Toastmasters Club’s Spring Open House on May 3rd! The event was a huge success, and it’s all thanks to your attendance and participation. We believe many visitors will be returning to future meetings.

thank you

“Hospitality Around the World” was the theme of the meeting. Rehana served as our Toastmaster for the day, and did a fabulous job introducing the club, the speakers, and the roles. She was welcoming and warm, yet informative and professional. Liana delivered her humorous speech about an important kitchen staple. Guest Speaker Syrena gave an honest, candid account of how Toastmasters helped her in her career and personal development. Brenda led an informative and engaging round of Table Topics by giving us an insight into the rituals of Egypt, Ancient Rome, Arabia, and Europe. Brenda encouraged several guests to contribute. The visitors impressed the audience with their abilities to think on their feet with grace and humor.

Perhaps my favorite part of the meeting was the exotic feast we all enjoyed following the meeting. Every member brought a dish or two that represented their culture or home country. It was a gastronomic adventure!

If you missed out on the Open House, we invite you to visit our club on Saturday mornings at 10.30am. This coming Saturday (5/10), our theme will be “Holidays.” Be prepared to learn, participate, and have a lot of fun! We look forward to “Embracing Cultures” with you!