Discussion Beyond Words (English Speaking Union – Philippines 2014 Speech)

My team, FEU Oratorical and Debate Council –  Public Speaking Chamber who represented FEU in the 2014 English Speaking Union Philippines  2014 held at UP Diliman College of Mass Communication last February 08, 2014.

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Jennifer Anne Pascua (Chair)

Lara Mendoza (Director for Training)

Hani Abbas (Member, Semi Finalist)

One Carlo Diaz (Member, Semi Finalist)

Joseph Ferrer (Member)

Grand Finalists:

Jennifer Anne Pascua

Lara Mendoza

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Just want to share the piece I delivered during the competition.

 

Discussion Beyond Words

ESU Speech 2014

Jennifer Anne Pascua

 

My parents always complain why I am always out of home. On weekdays, I am in school and on weekends, I spend my time being with my team mates going out in an adventure to different places. We do things that most  people won’t think of doing on their luxurious time. We tell stories, we teach, we adopt a buddy for a day, we paint classrooms, we invite laughter, and we forget about ourselves and care about the lives of other people. I am usually out of home because I am in the home of others.

I started being engaged to community immersion when I was in high school, it is the stage of my life when I wanted to explore the world and so I thought of joining a community immersion as a travel experience. My first community immersion moved my interest to continue doing charity. I enjoyed being with new people, going places, hearing stories and partaking in the food. It’s like a weekend getaway for me.

Community immersion is my emotional therapy. I feel like there is incompleteness in me and it is only through that ‘therapy’ that I find comfort and contentment. That whenever I fail to attend a session, it makes me feel sick and lost. Whenever I’m on therapy, I am in Neverland. I am a stranger in a foreign place. I love the feeling because I get to see, learn and experience the moment unadulterated. When I’m in a community immersion, I feel like I am in place where learning is not taught by teachers but by the lives of the people I interact with.

Whenever I’m on the field, I always spend a quiet time sitting on the corner and just observing how life unfolds. I have observed that the common problem of our communities is their isolation from the greater world that they are in. I have been to a place where children are the laborers in the charcoal factory, I have been in a home where neglected special kids are being taken of, I have been in a school where the classroom size is not enough for all chairs to fit in, I have been to a community in a mountain where our ethnic brothers and sisters need to walk for two days just to reach the nearest hospital. I don’t know who to blame but are they really that voiceless and unnoticeable for the majority not to hear and see?

We spend time watching on TV how our senators wash their dirty linen in public. We even we follow the story of an actor who was framed up and beaten. But how come that we cannot find time knowing the lives of our fellow countrymen who are in need? Why do other people give more attention making memes and pranks about issues than thinking how they can impart genuine social action change?

It has given me another source of inspiration and motivation knowing that there are still ordinary people like me who choose to relegate at the back of the line and walk with the people. Here in the Philippines, we have Efren Peñaflorida, 2012 CNN Hero of the Year because of his pursuit to educate the youth using his cart library. The late DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo who taught me the principle of “Tsinelas Leadership” Tsinelas in English means ‘Slippers’ and Tsinelas Leadership means that you live an ordinary life with your people, you feel their pulse and start to empower them from the grassroots. In Hong Kong, they have this organization called “We Do Global” a youth-led ASEAN organization that encourages youth participation in community immersions. They are the type of leaders who are not in the ivory tower, but goes out of the way to really understand the problem on the ground.

 

Ladies and gentlemen I agree that to be human is to discuss but in my experience as a student leader and in my community immersions,  discussion is beyond  the context of verbal communication, but rather it is a formation and exchange of inspiration from one soul to another. It is an exchange of inspiration between souls because it is when I get to experience living other person’s life just for a day and I get inspired on how they get by life in their own little ways, I am able to share to them rays of hope as long as we care for each other. It is an exchange between souls because it is through on the ground experience that I understand what the minority wants to shout to this seemingly callous world.

 

This kind of soul-to-soul discussion and leadership is what our world badly needs today. Each country is being challenged today and it is significant that we stand as a source of hope and inspiration for each other. Remember how many Filipinos were direly affected by Typhoon Yolanda? The children who were victims of war in Egypt and Ukraine? You wouldn’t hear them call but there will be this soft voice inside you that will move you to show empathy towards them. It only takes a mind that feels and a heart that thinks. That for me is the greatest form of discussion.

 

Thank you!

 

 This year’s theme of ESU is “To be Human is to Discuss”

 

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