A Vibrant Celebration of Cultural Diversity and Learning
by Ramdeo Seepaul, DTM
Tallahassee, Florida – On Saturday, September 23rd, 2023, the Asian Coalition of Tallahassee (ACT) hosted its 20th annual Experience Asia Festival, a spectacular event celebrating the rich tapestry of Asian and Asian Pacific cultures at Tom Brown Park in Tallahassee, FL, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. This family-friendly festival offered free admission and promised a day of vibrant performances, captivating demonstrations, delectable cuisine, intricate crafts, and much more.
The Experience Asia Festival is not just a celebration; it’s a bridge that connects communities and expands cultural horizons. The heart of the event lies in its mission: to unite the diverse Asian communities within the Tallahassee area and to promote and share their rich cultural heritage with the local community through active participation and cultural events.
Exploring the Values of Toastmasters
Adding to the cultural richness of the event was the presence of Division H Toastmasters, who saw this festival as a fantastic opportunity to share the values and benefits of Toastmasters International with festival goers. Throughout the day, our booth buzzed with activity as we engaged with patrons, explaining how Toastmasters can empower individuals to become better communicators and leaders. Area 81 Director, Jacquetta Cook, shared her thoughts on her first Experience Asia Festival: “This was my first time attending Experience Asia. It was amazing to see so many people from different backgrounds and cultural showcases from around the world.” Past Division H Director, Gloria Darling remarked, “This was Division H’s first outdoor community awareness event since the pandemic. The location of our information table ensured excellent visibility allowing our team to engage with interested festival patrons. The event saw enthusiastic participation from members of various Toastmasters clubs within Division H. Great teamwork on display!”
High School Students Rise to the Challenge
One of the highlights of the day was the Table Topics-inspired Speech Challenge, designed to inspire and challenge students from local high schools. Participants were given impromptu speech topics, and their speeches were timed, critiqued, and offered constructive feedback. What made this challenge particularly exciting was the enthusiasm of the students, who kept returning throughout the day to participate, displaying their growing confidence and communication skills. Jacquetta shared, “By far the most fun activity was the ‘one-minute challenge.’ It was a fun way to present a topic like Table Topics to the community. It was such an inspiration to see the enthusiasm of the students and to hear their responses and perspectives on the questions they were asked.” Gloria added, “It was particularly exciting to witness many groups of young people embrace the 1-minute Table Topics Challenge with pride and candy as a reward! Special thanks to Aakeem Bennett and Andy Seepaul for providing topics and evaluations.”
A high school student articulating a spontaneous response to a table-topics inspired question.
Creating Awareness in the Community
The main outcome of this event was the creation of awareness about Toastmasters within the Tallahassee community. By engaging with festival patrons and inspiring high school students to step up to the challenge, Division H Toastmasters showcased the valuable skills and supportive community that Toastmasters provides.
Festival attendees gaining insights into Division H Toastmasters Clubs from Toastmaster Emmanuel Cofie.
In essence, the Experience Asia Festival served as a platform not only for celebrating cultural diversity but also for fostering personal growth and community engagement through Toastmasters. It was a day when cultural exchange met with communication excellence, and the result was an enriching experience that left a lasting impact on both attendees and the Tallahassee community.
So, as we reflect on the 20th annual Experience Asia Festival, we celebrate not only the cultural diversity that unites us but also the commitment to personal and community growth that organizations like Toastmasters represent. This event truly embodied the spirit of unity, understanding, and learning.
A group of enthusiastic Toastmasters shared the values and benefits of Toastmasters with festival attendees.
Led by Division H Director, Rauha Jessup (white shirt)