June 13 meeting notes – Kiev Mohyla University

Incoming President Tatyana had a surprise for us this morning.  We assembled at the Coffee Theater assuming we would once again go across the street to meet in the park.  No!  At the very last minute, we negotiated a deal whereby we could meet in the Center for Contemporary Art of Kiev Mohyla University.   Good thing, too.  There was a torrential rain before the end of our meeting.

 

The exhibit hall was one of the university’s oldest buildings, several centuries at a minimum.  The ceiling of the room is a Romanesque arch.  The walls are several feet thick.  It has the feel of a wine cellar.  Cool, despite the hot summer outside.  The thick masonry provides ideal acoustics for Gregorian chants.  Not, however, for Toastmasters meetings.  With no furniture or wall hangings to deaden the sound, it is far more acoustically alive than ideal for giving a speech.  Your words echo right back on you.  Each speaker tried a different approach to deal with it.  Valya’s confidential whisper it seemed to be the best approach.

 

Tatyana, assuming the role of Toastmaster, chose an operatic theme for the morning.  Our agenda, she said, resembled the organization of an opera.  The overture was hers, segueing into the introduction of the evaluation team.  This was followed by three arias — the speeches — then the chorus for the table topics.  Evaluations provided the climax.

 

Valya’s was the first aria, delivered with confidence and poise in a quiet voice that worked extremely well in the close hall.  She questions, “what is impossible?”  In the modern world, nothing is really impossible.  We have to abandon the old notion that things are.  The four minute mile fell in 1955, to universal amazement.  In science we continue to do the impossible on a daily basis.  Valya contends the impossibility is only a state of mind, something we need to get over.

 

Graham spoke on the travails of getting around and Kiev for an American.  Not only is it a strange city, but it is a new way of looking at geography, maps and directions.  Yuri then spoke about criticism.  It is absolutely necessary, but it has to be delivered as the meat in the sandwich, with praise top and bottom.  See his picture.  Toastmistress Tania played upon this notion, chastening long-winded evaluators for putting too much baloney in the sandwich.

 

Liz, who lately has an important role in every meeting, chaired table topics.  She asked us to give plausible answer is for children to common questions.  She is obviously well read in Calvin and Hobbes.  She cited two of my favorite strips in which Calvin’s dad explains first that, although he could describe how a carburetor works, he cannot because it is secret, and that the wind is due to trees sneezing.  I love Calvin and Hobbes.  God bless you Liz!  Sergei Plasov won the award for the best table topics speech, and art talkers T-shirt signed by everybody present at the meeting.  Wear it with pride, Sergei!

 

It is comforting to know that we have a place to meet throughout the summer.  Look forward to seeing you next week at the Kiev Mohyla art museum..

 

PS: There are pictures.  It is maddeningly slow to include them in this writeup.  Look in the Links section for a link to the June 13 photo gallery.

 

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Published in: on June 15, 2008 at 4:35 am  Leave a Comment  

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