With input from Wikipedia
I don’t know about you, but I had never heard of World Speech Day until a few weeks ago. I love this idea. World Speech Day takes place annually on or about March 15, celebrating speeches and speech-making through live speaking events across the world. The concept was launched at the Athens Democracy Forum in 2015 and the first World Speech Day took place on 15 March 2016, with memorable events in such far-flung places as Athens, Singapore, and Moscow. It turns out that 2020 is the fifth year of World Speech Day. Where have I been for the past 5 years?!
At World Speech Day 2017, there were in events in some 80 nations. These ranged from the Parliament Hall in Ulan Bator to a school classroom in Palestine, from the Ismaili Centre in Bangladesh to the Oxford Union at Oxford University, from lecture theatres in Ibadan and Lagos to high schools and colleges across the USA.
Now, think about this, all of you millions of people who suddenly find yourselves home with your kids as everything closes down to combat the spread of COVID-19. Anyone can make a speech on World Speech Day. It can be in your living room to your family – or just to your husband or wife, it can be in your office cafeteria, your school classroom, the bowling alley, at Starbuck’s, your local library or with your book club. Anybody, anywhere. Well, actually, this year, as the entire world stops gathering anywhere, it’s probably going to be restricted to your living room, but what better place for your first try. My understanding is that the speeches aren’t supposed to be more than 3-5 minutes in length; they’re just meant to make everyone think about what’s important to them, what they’d like to share, and to give them the voice to do so. What a great idea.
The broad theme for World Speech Day is “Thoughts for a Better World”. The idea is that a speech should be about some way in which you think the world could be changed to be a better place. Those changes can be in the life of an individual; or local, in the life of a village or community or school or social group; or they can be more ambitious, touching the life of a nation or the whole world. Those changes might have something to do with fighting climate change, saving the rain forest, protecting endangered animals, improving access to health, overcoming poverty, fighting human rights abuses against women, overcoming racism, addressing the challenges for indigenous peoples. etc. It could be about the positive effects of gardening, quilting, or blogging. It could be about how music makes the world a happier place, or the benefits of participating in your favourite sport, or spending more time in the wilderness. The possibilities are endless. For smaller children it could be a speech on how Lego, books, or doing puzzles make the world a better place. Really!
World Speech Day events around the world this year seem to be scheduled for anytime between March 13 and March 18, according to notices I see online. Our grandchildren and their father (aka our son) were supposed to be coming to visit us for their March Break week, starting on March 16. As you might now guess, I had thought that World Speech Day would be a perfect addition to their visit. What better way to start off this special family week than to have everyone in our house prepare a 3-5 minute speech to give in our living room, speaking about what each of us thinks would help make the world a better place. I bet we’d get some quite different perspectives from an 11-year old, a 14-year old, a 45-year old, a 74-year old, and a slightly older grandpa. What fun! Maybe we could have prizes for the most inspiring, the funniest, or the strangest speech! Unfortunately, due to the world shutting down to try to contain COVID-19, they are now not coming. Our son didn’t want to be responsible for potentially exposing his aging parents to any germs they may have picked up on the airplane. And, although we wish it were otherwise, we do appreciate his concern.
However, I still think this would be a great activity to hold for a multigenerational household. OK, I will admit that both grandchildren and their grandfather all considered not having to prepare and give a speech as the one silver lining to having the visit postponed. But I know they would have come around and knocked it out of the park. And there’s always the chance for a make-up Speech Day during their next visit! 😉
What do you think? Can you see this working in your home? With a group of your friends? With your class?
With so many people now spending more time at home than they ever thought possible – with, gasp, no sports to watch – this may be just what the doctor ordered.
Let me know if you decide to give it a try!