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Behind the Curtain: White Party / New Year Party with Sogdiana and Yuriy

Assiya: It was a White party dedicated to the New Year-2017! Our leading hosts Sogdiana and Yuriy, could you share your impression or funny stories related to the party?

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Sogdiana: The idea to make this party “white” was of Korlan’s, our president, who thought that it would look terrific! And it was! Just imagine people wearing white dresses and shirts! It was like in a fairy tale with a Happy End. Yura and I wanted to write a funny and romantic scenario to make the evening that set the mood for our members and guests for the future holidays.

Yuriy: Sogdiana and I doubted that it would be quiet fun, some contests could make our guess bored. I can’t judge but it seems we have a good time.

Sogdiana: Of course, the fun would be impossible without people who made it happen!

We had a great team, who sacrificed their own time for the party! Yerlan was the one who was responsible for our budget. And we earned 250.000 KZT from 34 people. Sometimes, we are trying to save money for others meetings or gifts, but White party required full commitment from us. Money was spent for beautiful decoration, gifts, food and a “yummy” cake with lettering “White party”! It was a painstaking work of everyone. Sometimes, I didn’t have time to control everything, but on my request – everyone helped, when it was necessary. I was so proud of the power that we had, of emotions and feelings that we could put to the Day!

Yuriy: I didn’t know how it would be going because we had an empty room without tables, decorations: nothing was ready at 4 p.m. When Sogdiana and I entered the room we didn’t feel exuberance and realized “We have much stuff to do”.

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Sogdiana: Assiya, Anara, Raushan, Yura and I, came very early, to make sure, that the place would be prepared on time, tables were in a right place and lights could be turned off, when we needed for scenes. It was a bit unfair, but a lot of boy’s work, girls did by themselves. We didn’t ask for help, but we thought they might know, that we needed them. Anyway, we could solve it. And we had Yura, who helped with heavy stuff.

Yuriy: Actually, our glorious girls created a holiday table and decorated the room by 6.30 p.m. Everything was ready except the music. It was quite clear – the equipment was in bad condition, the sound was awful with lots of buzzing overtones, microphones were out of repair and Saulet was forced to spend a lot of time to repair but any attempt ended in the flop. Again a miracle….the equipment suddenly started to give us the music without buzzing, both microphones made us possible not to damage our vocal cords.

Sogdiana: It was really going to disrupt our party but everything worked out. I am thankful to all officers, newcomers and delivery agents. Everything was on time and with festive moods. Aisha brought fabulous posters of White party and logo of Astana Toastmasters Club. Yerlan and his wife Aigerim brought and served food on tables. Saulet tuned equipment and sound. Damira and Yerzhan were our Ded Moroz and Snegurochka with funny competitions and poems. Aidana and Zhanara took pictures. Girls made a dance of snowflakes. Aigerim Kosheken sang a song. Everyone was involved in process that is why it was a team-success!

Yuriy: Thank you very much who organized it! Sogdiana encouraged me to take part, wrote the scenario and I got real delight to meet and write it with her. The ATC white party was our miracle.

Sogdiana: Happy New Year!!!

Yuriy: Happy New Year!!!

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Toastmasters’ Speech Contest Follow-up Note from Korlan Bektassova

26th of November 2016 became an important milestone in the history of Astana Toastmasters Club and the whole Toastmasters’ community in Kazakhstan.

That Saturday afternoon 6 speakers representing 6 different Toastmasters Clubs, officially chartered in Kazakhstan, gathered together in a cozy hall of Hilton Garden Inn Hotel, to compete in the art of public speaking.

Though the idea of having such a contest was in my mind for a long time and it was one of my promises during the presidential campaign, the actual preparation for the event started in the last decade of August. It was the first time when I addressed all the Toastmasters Clubs I know in Kazakhstan: NCOC Toastmasters, Atyrau Open Toastmasters clubs in Atyrau, NU Toastmasters and Samruk Kazyna Toastmasters clubs in Astana and Almaty Toastmasters Club in Almaty. All the clubs immediately supported the idea, and showed willingness to participate. I expected nothing less from a community of true leaders. First step was done.

From that very moment, a busy season began. We had many tasks to fulfill: finding the venue with a good location, finding judges, recruiting volunteers to help with organizational matters, promoting the Contest to attract visitors, preparing certificates, and gifts for winners and participants and many other little details that seemed to be unimportant but actually meant a lot.

The most challenging part was finding a perfect venue. Location was important.   

There are many venues in Astana with necessary equipment and capacity, and Hilton Garden Inn was indeed a perfect location for the Speech Contest. However there was one main restraint: being a non-profit organization, we do not have financial resources to be able to “buy” any venue we want. Thus, we needed a venue for free. That doubled the challenge and this challenge was accepted by the Sergeant-at-arms Kanat Bazaraly. He successfully tackled the problem by applying his leadership skills and persuading Mr. Michael Adams, the director of PwC Kazakhstan, that there were benefits in sponsoring the Speech Contest. Perhaps one would say that it was an easy task, since Mr. Adams was supportive with the ideas and values of ATC, and once again, I’d like to thank him and PwC Kazakhstan management for believing in good causes of such an event and agreeing to sponsor it.

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The next thing to do was to recruit judges.

The task was complicated by three factors: 1) we needed someone who is familiar with public speaking principles, 2) we needed someone who speaks and understands English at the highest possible level and 3) we needed unbiased parties, unrelated to any of the competing clubs.

The problem was solved when Aliya Sariyeva, the only Distinguished Toastmaster in Kazakhstan and Central Asia, called me and said that she wanted to lead the event and be the toastmaster of the Speech Contest. I could not have imagined a better candidate for this task.

She was also the one who recommended Miss Mary Francis and Miss Jane Knight from Haileybury School in Astana as judges. The third judge was Trevor Hogan from PwC Kazakhstan. I’d like to thank these lovely people for agreeing to take such a responsibility and sparing their time and efforts.

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The other thing which was still on the table was Gifts for the participants.

At first we thought we’d have a participation fee for the contestants, however later on we waivered this prerequisite as it is not a common practice in Toastmasters. However we still needed funding. That is when a little fundraising campaign started within the club. With the help of members of ATC, we managed to raise enough money to buy books for gifts for each contestant. I’d like to thank everyone who contributed to the fundraising, and my special thanks is to Banu Ibragim, a member of ATC, who recently moved to another city and could not be present at the Contest, she was the one who contributed the largest amount. That’s what we call true devotion to the club.  

Speech Contest was a great opportunity to raise awareness about Toastmasters. A press release about the event was sent to media and published on social network. Thanks to the efforts of PR team from ATC and PwC, we were able to attract an audience of nearly 100 people and even had some TV journalists.  

Conducting a Contest of such a scale by gathering Toastmasters together was the key goal I announced during my presidential campaign and now I can say that the mission is successfully accomplished. Thanks to teamwork and dedication, the event turned out to be a tremendous one.

For me it was never about winning but I’m happy that Aigerim Kosheken who stepped up to represent Astana Toastmasters Club reached the hearts of the audience and the jury by winning the 2nd place and Audience choice award. Thank you, Aigerim!

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Look at these courageous women and men who stepped up to represent their clubs, without them it would not have happened.

The results of the Speech Contest turned out to be as follows:

1st place Sayagul Berdenova from NCOC Toastmasters Club

2nd place Aigerim Kosheken from Astana Toastmasters Club

3rd place Yernur Satybaldiyev from Almaty Toastmasters Club

Audience choice award was split between Aigerim Kosheken and Yernur Satybaldiyev, who got equal number of votes.

Videos  of their speeches are here.

Photos are here

In the end I’d like to thank officers’ team for supporting the idea and making the it happen, each member (ex, current or future) who contributed their time and money, great photographers Matthew Charnetski and Makhmud Baikhodzhayev, Saule Temirbayeva, who prepared the ballot box and voting sheets and Aikorkem Nurzhanova who promoted the event by all means possible.   

More great events to come!

Sincerely yours,

Korlan Bektassova