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Behind the Curtain: VI ATC Summer Olympic Games 2016 by Yerzhan Omirkhanov

Here is the quick follow up note from project leader of VI ATC Summer Olympic Games 2016.

ATC Olympic Games of 2016 were scheduled to start at 12:00 on 21 of September in the schoolyard. We had all facilities we needed: football field, basketball and tennis courts. Overall the Olympic Games consisted of three parts sports activities, picnic and family dinner. We had 5 different team sports games: relay race, snake, mine field, carpet folding and sculpture. Games required a considerable amount of energy and flexibility that my muscles ached afterwards.       

The ATC Olympic Games kicked off with a nice warm-up session delivered by Asset Omirzhanov and Korlan Bektassova. During the games Bairam Orazov was in charge, our MC made sure that sports activities went smooth and well. We had two rival teams Batyrs Squad and Cockroaches. Cockroaches had their own slogan “we crawl, we bite, we eat you alive” ughh! Despite being undefeatable everywhere on Earth Cockroaches team were unable to beat Batyrs Squad. Squad won the VI ATC Summer Olympic Games and was awarded a Golden  Cup of ATC. The Games were closed with an old and good game from our childhood – Bouncer (Вышибалы).

As for the picnic, Zhantuar Yertayev has arrived just on time with food supplies purchased on a city fair. Melon and watermelon were so sweet and juicy that we have craved even more of it. Also we have got some descent “lakhmadjun” from the Turkish restaurant nearby. We had some chit-chat and enjoyed our meals during the picnic. Soon after we were all exhausted and decided to take a nap and sunbathe.

In the end we had dinner at café Rafe, the one close to Akorda. I enjoyed a veggie pizza while others had some salads and soups. I would like to say thank you: to Damira Kulakhmetova for her diligent work in planning and executing the Games; as well as to our Ex-Sergeant at Arms, Asset Omirzhanov, who shared not only his wisdom of organizing the previous game, but also shared his own sports tools; to Bairam, for stepping up as an MC of the Olympic Games at the last moment; and to Zhantuar, who went to the city fare and bought the best melon and watermelon we have ever tried, it was worth coming just because of it. I am grateful to Astana Toastmasters Club for the opportunity to spend this Sunday in a warm atmosphere of nice people. Live long and prosper!       

Enjoy your last days of summer,

Yerzhan Omirkhanov

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Brickell Toastmasters in Miami

During our trip to Miami, Fl we were so lucky to visit a regular meeting of Brickell Toastmasters Club.

And here is why.

It was our first visit of a Toastmasters club abroad. We were looking forward to see how meetings are conducted in the USA, the homeland of all toastmasters clubs.
So on the 8th of July we came to the Bank of America building in downtown Miami. The venue is a Merrill Lynch conference room with a stunning view of the ocean.

The Brickell toastmasters club has 54 official members, attendance was about 20-25 members which is very good considering the time (12.15 on Friday)

We came a bit earlier so the room was empty. But colorful agendas were already printed.
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What was unusual about Brickell Toastmasters and impressed us the most:
1) Time-management. According to the agenda, duration of the meeting was roughly one hour. We were a bit skeptical initially because we know from experience it’s very hard to organize meetings during lunch time. However, to our surprise the meeting had started at 12.15 sharp as planned. At exactly 12.14 everybody became silent and watched the hand of the clock on the wall to reach the beginning time!
Throughout the meeting every participant demonstrated excellent time-management skills – almost no one was over the limit.
Two interesting details: Instead of cards, Brickell Toastmasters has a special device for a timer. It looks more like a toy traffic light.
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However, it’s amazingly convenient to use. The timer’s role was masterfully performed by Korlan Bektassova who was recruitted by the toastmaster of the meeting on the spot..
Another interesting thing is a 30-seconds-rule – amazingly cool technique! Once speakers reach a maximum time limit, a timer counts until 30 and then begins to clap and everybody joins. Yes, it’s that easy and genius! No long boring speeches, no brandishing a red card! Though only one speaker during the table topic session was granted an applause from Korlan – everyone being so cool staying within the time limits! Also the club saves time on writing feedback. At ATC the toastmaster of the meeting usually gives one minute to write feedback note to the speakers. At Brickell all members write feedback during the next speech.
Here is a timer’s report form:
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2) New roles. Not only Brickell Toastmasters has a joke master – a separate role which is combined with the role of a grammarian in our club – but also they have two quite unusual roles:
 Vote counter. Actually, I took this role without even thinking – just wanted to try something new. But anyway how hard could be counting votes for the best prepared speaker, best table topic speaker and best speech evaluator?! In reality, I was overwhelmed by the flow of votes!Brickell Toastmasters uses the standard ballot for voting and brief evaluations. The Vote counter collects all feedbacks and votes, counts votes for the best prepared speaker, second best and most improved,  and also sorts feedback notes for the prepared speakers and distributes them at the end of the meeting.
– CL evaluator – Brickell Toastmasters assigns a special member to fill CL manuals of all the role takers. This is quite unusual, however, I suspect this practise leads to a very high rate of competent leaders in the club :-)
3) Little details:
– Ah-counter has a special clicker which he uses upon hearing filler words and sounds. I was SO annoyed at first – what the guy is doing?! He is DISTRACTING the speakers! But then it became obvious that the clicker has a powerful effect: after several clicks the speakers started to control his/her speeches and consiously decreased the number of filler words.
– Sergeant-at-arms opens and closes the meeting.
– The meeting begins with everybody saying a short oath.
– We’ve met an area director. It was the first Toastmasters high official I’ve ever met in my life. ))) It’s cool that area directors visit toastmasters club which they supervise.
We are very grateful to all toastmasters of Brickell club in Miami for their hospitality. As a token gift from ATC, we presented a bar of Kazakhstan chocolate to the best prepared speaker. He was so happy! :-)
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Everyone was kind and genuinely interested in Astana Toastmasters Club. They all asked questions about us, about Astana and Kazakhstan (- Do you all speak fluent English? – Of course! :)) And the area director even promised to visit us one day.
Overall we were extremely impressed by the Brickell Toastmasters CLub. How effectively it is organized, how time wise and productive.Korlan as a president promised to implement some tools in our club. Looking forward seeing best practice in our beloved Astana Toasmasters Club!
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A word from President: August

Dear Toastmasters!

It is the last month of a rainy summer in Astana, and if you need a life hack on how to survive a gloomy weather, here is one: Surround yourself with sunny people, such people can be found in Astana Toastmasters Club. I cannot stop being amazed with how kind, friendly, creative and supportive the people of ATC are. Every time you need support or advice there they are.

Last month we hosted a country day, went to a super-duper trip to Burabay and had 7 meetings overall with more than 20 speeches. Can you imagine? We heard 20+ different stories and learnt something new or maybe remembered something we knew but forgot long time ago.

In August we plan to continue to stay awesome and have a super guest speaker (fingers crossed), have an outside meeting-picnic (fingers crossed) and have our annual VI ATC Summer Olympic Games (everything will be as real as in Rio).

You need to be a part of all of this, don’t miss out all the fun.

Lessons I personally learnt in the past month is that your team is important and when you can rely on people everything is achievable. I’d like to once again thank my wonderful team for an amazing job they’re doing.

P.S. “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”
― Phil Jackson president of NY Knicks (NBA)

Sincerely,
Korlan Bektassova