A St Maarten delegation of 25 Toastmasters recently returned to the island after attending the May District 81 Conference in Tortola, BVI from May 20-22. The St Maarten Team has recorded tremendous success at the Conference.
Several of the St Maarten delegates were involved in all aspects of the Conference from Judges, Speech Contestants, workshop Presenters and as candidates in the election for District Leadership.
District 81 boasts a little over 3000 members in 16 territories throughout the Caribbean. The structure consists of 95 clubs divided into 24 Areas and 4 Divisions. The four layer structure (Club, Area, Division and then District) is overseen by the District Leadership
St Maarten now has two persons occupying the number 2 and number 5 positions at the Top level of the Caribbean District 81 Executive. Distinguished Toastmaster Rolando Tobias has been elected to the position of Lt. Governor Education & Training. In this new function, Tobias will be responsible for the training of some 3000 Toastmasters throughout the Caribbean. His primary responsibility will be to ensure that all leaders receive mandatory training in their roles and responsibilities twice a year. In addition, he will be responsible to lay out a training program that will provide for development of future leaders in the District. Tobias will also be responsible for overseeing the District Conferences that are held twice annually. The October 2011 Conference is slated to be held in Puerto Rico, while the May 2012 Conference is slated for St Maarten. Tobias had been the Lieutenant Governor Marketing for the past year and was responsible for club growth, retention and rescue.
Valerie Brazier has been elected to the position of Secretary on the Executive. Her primary responsibilities will be to serve as the center of information for the entire District. She will ensure that all records are kept and that the database of the membership is kept up to date.
Valerie Brazier who is now an Advanced Communicator Gold and just one step away from being a Distinguished Toastmaster (the island’s third DTM), replaced Richelda Emmanuel as Division A Governor last year and has taken the Division to the second position amongst the four Divisions (29 clubs) in District 81.
Annette Berkel has been appointed as the new Area Governor for Area 6, which will again comprise all 4 clubs on St Maarten. Advanced Communicator Annette Berkel will succeed Emilia Thomas who for the past year in her capacity as Area Governor has taken Area 6 to the President Distinguished Distinction, the highest award an Area can obtain.
Several of the other St Maarten Toastmasters featured prominently in the other activities at the Conference.
Toastmaster Malcolm Jacques was a contestant in the Table topic contest amongst 8 other contestants. The table topic contest is the most challenging contest where participants are required to display mental agility and the skills taught in Toastmasters for effective impromptu speaking. Although he was not successful in winning, for Toastmasters Jacques, it was a great experience to share the stage with other contestants and having the opportunity as the winner to represent the District (Caribbean) at the International Speech contest at the Convention in Las Vegas in August 2011.
Advanced Communicator Gold and Advanced Leader Sinatra Rouse was one of the presenters of a workshop during the conference. She gave a very impressive presentation to a room filled to capacity with Toastmasters from across the Caribbean. Her presentation focused on the importance of needing to rescue the member as the avenue to actually rescuing the club. ACG Sinatra demonstrated the importance of the Coaching program as a structured way to empower Toastmasters in the leadership roles. Her presentation was well received.
Several other Toastmasters such as Competent Communicator Joy Arnell and Advanced Communicator Bronze Julisa Frans served as introducers for the various speakers. As introducers, they were required to not only introduce the presenters, but also demonstrate their active listening skills in summarizing the session at the end. ACB Catherine Connor-Arrindell and Angela Gordon served as Counter and Timer respectively for the Speech contests. At the same time, ACG Leona Marlin and TM Rodney Richardson served as judges for the Table topic and International Speech contests.
The Conference experience allows Toastmasters from St Maarten to demonstrate their skills and expertise and exposes them to the other Toastmasters. The result is that St Maarten has gained a tremendous amount of respect for the professionalism and is being rewarded by having their members ascend to leadership roles within the highest District Executive Level.
St Maarten will get the opportunity next year to see the St Maarten Leaders demonstrate their skills and expertise. St Maarten has won the bid to host the May 2012 District Conference. As such, plans have started to realize a great conference on St Maarten and the general public will be hearing much more in the coming months as plans take shape.
St Maarten Toastmasters are making their mark throughout the Caribbean by developing and exposing great communicators and leaders. Toastmasters International is a worldwide Communication and Leadership organization that focuses on the self development of the individual through a learning-by-doing interactive meeting process. There are four clubs on St Maarten. Three of these are community clubs, which are open to the general public and anyone interested in developing their communication and leadership skills are welcome to join.