Curfews. Lockdowns. People standing six feet apart, covering their faces with masks, perpetually viewing their own hands with suspicion; continuously dousing them in alcohol-based sanitizers. It sounds like the creative setting of a dystopian novel. However, the global Covid-19 pandemic has made it our new normal.

The magic of the human spirit is that it cannot be kept down for too long. It strives against adversity, and challenges itself to adapt and overcome. Adapting to living in a pandemic may have been an upstream struggle, but the world over we are seeing examples of innovative ways in which children, adults and organizations have found ways to meaningfully carry on. The past five months of social distancing in India have been a time of stress and struggle, but they have also been filled with many new beginnings.

Toastmasters, in its true spirit of always leading the way, hit the ground running, quickly adapting their meetings to the online format. Our club in Guwahati did not miss even one meeting. One week we were bidding adieu to our meeting space at a local hall, and the next week we were logging into the meeting from the safety of our homes. The TM International Leadership also swung into action immediately, sharing valuable tips and tools for successful online meetings.

It has been a learning process, filled with many hiccups, but the Toastmasters have rallied together. Innovative themes, interactive table topics sessions, presentations supporting speech delivery – there have been many new beginnings that have drawn in online participation. Where once we were trying to build the comfort of current TMs with the online medium, now we are attracting more and more guests and queries for enrollment. So much so that we have inducted many new members, leading to club growth and the launching of the Advanced Club for the region.Molière said, “The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” Circumstances may throw many obstacles in our way, but Toastmasters will rise above and create opportunities and new beginnings everywhere.

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