Why I’m Grateful For Taking Speech Class

Next week is the last week of my semester and next week, I only have to be there on Monday for Speech class and on Friday for my final art critique for Color and Design class. Since I live an hour away from campus, I wrote to the Speech instructor, asking him if it was ok for me to skip the final class. He told me that since I haven’t missed a single class in the semester, that I could do so without any penalty to my grade.

I have mixed feelings about not attending this final class. On one hand, I always like to finish my semesters off strong and by attending every single class. I also would like to shake my instructor’s hand at the end of class and tell him how much he’s done for me. On the other hand, I don’t want to drive an hour to campus. I still haven’t decided whether I will go to class or not yet…

In any case, that’s not what today’s post is about.

Today’s post is about reflecting on the impact Speech class has had on me this semester. I’m a sentimental person, and I think this is one of the things that makes it very hard for me to let go of things, especially when it’s a good thing. I’m the kind of person who hates bad endings in movies and who pines for people when they leave. The kind of person who feels an overwhelming gush of gratitude for teachers at the end of the semester.

In the same manner, I feel a gush of gratitude towards my Speech instructor. I wrote him a long email telling him how much he’s done for me this semester. And it’s all true.

I went into Speech thinking that I was going to absolutely hate it. I think I might have even written about it in the blog sometime. I taught English as a Second Language (ESL) to freshman college students in Malaysia. As part of that, I taught them Speech or speaking skills. I didn’t think I’d need this class. I took it begrudgingly. That is until I met my instructor.

On the first day of class, he blew my mind because of how passionate he is about the subject and how passionate he is at teaching. He also had the same style that I did when I was a teacher. His philosophy in teaching is that all the students are adults, and should therefore be responsible for their own success or failure. As such, he and I both would tell students that they can do whatever they like (within limits of the expectations) and their final grade would reflect how much effort and time they’ve put into the class. He reminded me of me and he made me rediscover my passion for teaching.

Thanks to that, I applied to be a tutor at the Math Assistance Center and also am now a college-approved independent tutor for math. I’m also going to apply to be a tutor at the Speaker’s Lab as well seeing as I’ve done well in Speech. I am also considering doing my Master’s at the college so that I could become a teaching assistant for math and also possibly teach Speech myself. I do, after all, have a degree in Languages and Linguistics with a concentration in English. I’d hate to see that go to waste. See, those things were things I’ve never even considered until I started Speech class and met M (my instructor).

Through Speech class, I also found my voice to speak up and speak out about mental health issues. I found myself being very interested in mental health advocacy and participated in events/workshops that I really probably wouldn’t have done. M also allowed me to do whatever topics I wanted for my speeches and in 2 of the 5 speeches we were supposed to give, I spoke about mental health. I found my passion in mental health advocacy on campus and am now training to be a Peer Educator on campus. I also gave a speech about what it’s like to be a student who struggles with school and mental illnesses at the same time at the Coffee House event held by the Office of Health and Wellness Promotion (HWP). If I hadn’t taken Speech, I wouldn’t have even considered attending this event.

Though not directly related to M, because I attended the Coffee House, I also got to know my now good friend, El. We connected in a way that we wouldn’t have done had it not been for this event. She and I ended up talking until midnight about ourselves in the most deep and intimate way. I would still probably be just a classmate to her had this not have happened.

A lot has happened to me this semester and a lot has happened to me this year. I’ve gone through the most difficult time of my life with my depressive episode that has been lasting for 3 months now but now that I’m closer to climbing out of that pit, I can see how much this and everything else have shaped who I am this year. It has changed me and despite it sucking really bad being depressed for so long, it has also allowed me to see the good in people – to know who my real friends are and who I can trust to speak about stuff. It has also forced me to learn to change because had I not fallen into that pit, I wouldn’t have bothered to figure out how to climb out of it.

In a similar way, had I not attended Speech, I wouldn’t have bothered to learn to speak better and consciously remove the “uhm” in my speeches, I wouldn’t have bothered to look into more opportunities to speak outside of campus, I wouldn’t have bothered to apply to be a tutor, I wouldn’t have bothered to train as a Peer Educator (who later would have to do tons of presentations about health and wellness topics) and I wouldn’t have found my passion in anything.

I owe M a lot and I made sure to let him know how he’s impacted me. I’ve learned that life is so short that if you don’t find ways to encourage others daily, that it’s a life wasted. (I know it’s a contradiction for someone like me who is always constantly wanting to die or struggling with suicidal thoughts but I do now the value of life). This morning, I’ve been reminded again that my purpose in this life is to share my life with others, to encourage others and to find meaning in everything that has happened in it.

I am glad that I took Speech because it had been the catalyst of many changes in my life that I am truly grateful for.

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