Empowering Newcomers to Tell Their Stories through Public Speaking Training

February 2021 Edition of Partnership News by the Peterborough Immigration Partnership

There’s a story in each of us. Uncovering and telling that story can help us relate, connect, heal, and build bridges of friendship and understanding. Settling in a new country undoubtedly carries with it an abundance of stories about change, challenge, community, and success. These stories were brought to life in January through a partnership with Peterborough Toastmasters to train newcomers in Public Speaking.

As part of the training, newcomers were engaged in learning and practice in generating ideas about their lives and experiences, speech writing and delivery, making presentations, and confidence when public speaking. With a small group of five new Canadians, the program allowed for peer-encouragement and learning together. Each session involved a new lesson and an opportunity to practice by delivering a speech and receiving feedback from the entire group. Each week, participants took the learnings and feedback to adapt their stories, speeches, and delivery. 

Hearing each other’s stories allowed participants to see parts of themselves in each other and uncover strength within themselves, their experiences and their growth. One participant reflected, “at the beginning, I was so scared and nervous and was close to saying no, I’m not doing this anymore. But I took the challenge and stayed. I am very proud of everyone now because I have seen how everyone has grown. All the speeches touched my heart, and (as an immigrant too) I know how you might feel leaving everything behind and starting a new life.” 

At the end of January, close to 25 people from Toastmasters Groups near Peterborough and family and friends of the participants joined us for a graduation session and provided an opportunity for participants to deliver a speech of their choosing to the group.

There were diverse stories and speeches shared, from recalling childhood lessons to the value of memories, newcomer challenges and successes to COVID-19, life lessons to a tour of the oldest city in the world – Damascus. 

At the end of the program, speakers were invited to join the Peterborough Toastmasters Club, with one member noting that the Toastmasters group would learn so much from the experiences of these newcomers. The Peterborough Toastmasters group meets monthly for networking, learning, and continuous practice in public speaking and communication skills.

Sincere thank you to facilitators Lynda Todd and Marilyn McNaughton for their teachings, support, and encouragement throughout this program and for being willing to adapt the long-running program to a virtual platform for the first time. Many thanks also to the members of the Toastmasters Clubs in and near Peterborough for joining us as evaluators and providing feedback and encouragement to the group. 

Congratulations to this cohort of Public Speaking training graduates on completing the training. Thank you for welcoming us into your homes virtually and sharing your stories with us. 

Are you a newcomer interested in training in storytelling and public speaking? Please contact Bhisham at [email protected] to discuss opportunities.

Established in 2008, the Peterborough Immigration Partnership (PIP) is a community-based partnership of individuals & organisations (including the NCC) which envisions a community where the meaningful economic, social and cultural integration of newcomers ensures a prosperous and inclusive community for all.

Please contact us for more information and to become involved in this partnership.