English Language Fellow Ollie Rashid visited the Thurgood Marshall Library at the U.S. Embassy to share fun facts about her home state of Kentucky while also offering a public-speaking workshop. The event started with an icebreaker to get the 36 library members out of their seats: a five-question “stand up or sit down” survey that got them ready to absorb five simple tips on how to deliver their next public speech like an expert. Rashid focused on the 5 S’s—stance, sound, smile, silence, and sight—and then engaged the group in an interactive speaking workshop. 

Following the brief presentation demonstrating the 5 S’s, Rashid quickly organized a public-speaking contest. Five audience members agreed to share what they had learned by showcasing their oratorical skills in front of the group. As the contestants each read a short passage about the Harlem Renaissance and the poem “Dreamers” by Langston Hughes, three judges from the audience rated them on their mastery of the 5 S’s. Their peers enthusiastically encouraged them by cheering and applauding each performance. At the end of the contest, every speaker got to choose from a collection of small gifts brought by Rashid all the way from Kentucky. For participants to receive a small piece of Kentuckiana after having just heard Rashid describe the Bluegrass State was a special experience. Everyone had a great time, as they do every Wednesday at the Thurgood Marshall Library. 

Rashid believes is important for Fellows to take advantage of opportunities to speak to local citizens whenever possible. The U.S. Embassy in Conakry runs a very active English-language-learning program for its adult members. On Wednesdays, a native English-language speaker is invited to deliver a talk about any subject related to American culture or society or to teach a grammar lesson. The audience is always eager to listen to native English speakers, but it is even more exciting when they get a chance to interact with the speaker and showcase what they have learned. This public-speaking workshop allowed them to do that, and they learned memorable tips they can share with other students and community members. Rashid looks forward to spending more time with this group.

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