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An informal meeting with His Excellency Mr Ilija Psaltirov

On February of 8th, all members of Astana Toastmasters Club were invited by the ambassador of Macedonia to Kazakhstan, Mr. Ilija Psaltirov, for an informal meeting.

“Welcome to my home!” – that’s how  the ambassador greeted us at his residency. Next to him was his assistant, a representative from Kazakhstan, and his wife, Slavitza. We were among the first comers and were pleased to chit-and-chat while other guests were on the way.

“We heard that Macedonians and Kazakhs share at least one similarity: hospitality. However, Kazakhs are also known for being late to dinners or any other events. Do Macedonians share this characteristics with us as well?” – I asked Mrs. Slavitza Psaltirov. 

To that she replied: “No, we are very punctual, but I already get used to late dinners, because diplomats all over the world are always late to the dinner.” Little by little I got to know more about Macedonia and its culture.  

Mr. and Mrs. Psaltirov have been living in Kazakhstan no more than two years. The embassy of Macedonia has opened in the end of 2014 and Mr. Ilija was its first ambassador. When he started the  night, he was honest when said that he applied to three other locations and Kazakhstan wasn’t his first choice. He then added that when he needed to make that decision (to accept the invitation) he agreed without really knowing much about Kazakhstan because he knew for sure that he was eager to represent Macedonia no matter where he was. As for me, I am very glad he became the ambassador, because I haven’t met anybody who was so passionate about his country and strived to share his passion with everyone around him. Mr. Ilija is also very contemporary. When you meet any diplomat, you expect him to be all serious and conservative, but Mr. Ilija is the opposite: he likes to make jokes a lot, he is honest and generous.

After a brief introduction the ambassador continued by saying thanks to all volunteers who helped to facilitate events hosted by the embassy. Although our club has not yet got a chance to assist in those events, we also got a certificate of appreciation.
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You might recall that we hosted a Country Day meeting at the end of January where Mr. Ilija made a presentation about Macedonia, its people and culture and similarities to our culture.

When the official part was over, Mr. Ilija came up with the idea to hold a karaoke competition. He started the competition by singing first with his own song “Ti si vulkan” – a beautiful song of his singer repertoire. The guests were grateful for the joyful event and spent the night singing and dancing to their favorite songs.

Indeed, it was a fun night that we will not forget. To feel the joy of the evening, you can find photos on Facebook (click here).

Yours,

Damira Kulakhmetova

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Meeting followup 23 January by Assel Stambekova

Dear Toastmasters,

As a Toastmaster, I’d like to provide a follow up note about yesterday’s meeting.

Yesterday’s meeting was the first in 2016 in the series of Country day at ATC. The country we learnt yesterday about was Macedonia, and its true representative and our guest speaker is IlijaPsaltirov, PhD, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Macedonia to Kazakhstan. 

The meeting room got busier ten minutes before an official start and it was great to see happily smiling people and calm confident speakers. We started the meeting right on time (if I’m not mistaken :) and this is our biggest achievement. Many thanks to all role-takers and speakers for showing up in advance. Your attitude was at a high level yesterday!

Our agenda was complete- a full house of five speakers. Our guest speaker- Mr Ilija Psaltirov- could possibly start his journey with Humorously Speaking manual in ATC! His country presentation, impromptu speech during Table Topic session and “Award goes to…” talk entertained the audience- we laughed, we smiled, we took a selfie, we got common gifts and individual presents for exemplary speeches… Well, Macedonian flavor in the meeting was a blast!

Then our prepared speaker Elmira Tulbassiyeva touched our hearts and made us sit at the edge of a seat. Her “Story”- project #6 Vocal Variety- was elegantly delivered as if by Maya Angelou which brought her Best Speaker award. Well-done!

Our next speaker- a long-awaited speaker Marzhan Amanazholova, officer from 2014-15 team- opened up her story of how she climbed a career ladder. “Working for money or for dream” speech made many of us recall our professional journeys and ask touch questions. As a result,the ambassador awarded Marzhan with a special prize – Macedonian ehtno music CD. By the way, I’m listening to one right now here.
Samat Panov, the next speaker, presented Speaking to Praise project from Special Occasions manual. He praised Jack Welcsh, a former CEO of GE who, during his leadership,increased GE total revenue 400 times! Some other lessons learny by Samat from Welcsh were about sustaining values, eliminating weak people from the team and leadership.

Our final speaker was a prospective member Aigerim Akiltayeva with her passionate ice-breaking speech about running. It was interesting to learn where running takes Aigerim, and believe me, her passion to this energetic outdoor activity was in the air! By the way, Aigerim’s speech evaluator, Damira Kulakhmetova was recognised as Best Speech Evaluator.

Table topic session led by Zhanna Kussainova was authentic. Zhanna was face-painted with Macedonian symbols and her questions made us hear and repeat Alexander Macedonian name many times :) As a result :) the audience voted for the ambassador as the Best Table Topic speaker.

A good police officer in the presence of General Evaluator Assiya Babayeva and her evaluation team. Speech evaluators- Anuar Unaibekov, Anuar Zhumabayev, Kanat Bazaraly and Damira Kulakhmetova- noted speakers’ best moments in speech content and delivery. Additionally, they’ve recommended a few things to consider/improve them in their future speeches.

Overall, the meeting was rich of fun, energy, originality and male-dominated in “Let the guests talk” session :)

Last but not the least, the ambassador announced that ATC community would also be invited for one of the Macedonian events. Let’s stay tuned and wait for this cultural occasion.

Many thanks for your time to finish reading this long note.

AsselStambekova,
Toastmaster