How has ESU changed your life?

Wednesday 02 March 2011

By Alvin Mahadeo BABBEA
Finalist of the ESU Public Speaking competition 2010
From the Mahatma Gandhi Institute Secondary School, Moka


From a timid, quiet, downtrodden boy with wobbling legs to an extrovert with lion like courage and incontrovertible will power – now that is what is called DRASTIC change.

The above statement is indeed quite extreme but it is nevertheless enough to give an image of what the English Speaking Union can do, and has done, to the personal development of many people, me included.

What is the aim of the ESU anyway? “Creating global understanding through English” is the organisation’s motto. Let’s deepen our understanding of the motto: the aim is global understanding, through the medium of the English language. As such we see that the ESU’s aim is not only to promote English – which is after all the most spoken language around the world, our lingua franca – but also to spin the thread of communication in our global village. The ESU alone has more than 50 branches worldwide and the essence of its mission is as follows: “to spread the message of international understanding and friendship”.

But what the ESU has done in Mauritius, as per my experience, is reaching the leaders of tomorrow, our youth. Ever since the establishment of ESU Mauritius in 1993, the latter has been active in schools, organizing public speaking competitions, spelling competitions, debates, talks and teacher training. So here, in Mauritius, the ESU is ‘creating global understanding’ to whom? Our fledgling teenagers who are on the threshold of adult life! The ESU is giving a helping hand to pull out the emerging youth from his wilted shelter of innocence, his cocoon of ignorance. These competitions are probably the best doorways to real life, a life where there are different people with different views and understandings, a life where success and defeat should be accepted with the same enthusiasm, a life which demands that we construct our personality. And such a youth was me.

I, for one, participated in the ESU public speaking competition 2010 and reached the finals, learning more and more as I progressed from the heats to the semi finals and onwards. When I was first practicing my speech, my eyes would ceaselessly dart from left to right, seeking for some kind of positive sign from my peers and teachers. But by the time I reached the finals, this consideration reared to the background (though it was important, I was in a competition after all!). My principle became that my most important consideration should be that I am imparting something to them and it is primordial that my point is made. And the subsequent creativity in speech and humouristic references acted as supportive bases to this principle. Practicing and practicing, learning from errors, listening to the constructive criticism of my friends, of my teachers and striving despite so many stumbling blocks helped me to at least understand, if not inculcate, the qualities of humility, modesty, respect and punctuality. Without humility and modesty, you’ll quickly be the next big head of the planet. Without punctuality you might even brush near a winning interview for your dream job. And without respect for your teachers, our guides, it’s a goodbye to your exquisite learning experience. The confidence that you achieve in this journey is, after all, worth your hard work.

Hence, the ESU is here to bring change. And the recipient of that change – a change for the better- does not have to be solely me; it could be you.