On Tuesday I headed back home to San Jacinto, Ca to do some public speaking at a local charter school. It was a pretty fun and interesting experience. I didn't get off to a good start, however.
I drove myself to the airport and after parking in the garage, I took the skytrain to the check-in desk. Before I got there though, I saw an older woman lying down on the escalator. Her bag had gotten caught and she took a spill. A man stopped the escalator and called 911. I stopped and assessed the situation, and began asking questions. She had a pretty good laceration in her hand and was bleeding. Anywho, I wrapped my tshirt around her hand to stop the bleeding, talked to her, and made calls for her until the EMTs came. By the time all that happened, I missed my flight and had to wait 5 hours until the next flight left.
I got into town around 9 o'clock and had dinner with my mom, went to my hotel room and soon realized I had forgotten the outfit I was supposed to make one of my presentations in. Well, I had a polo and khakis with me, thank goodness so at least I had that to fall back on.
The next day I began speaking and demonstrating bright and early at 8 AM and concluded the day at 4 PM. I talked about my background and how I cam from the same town as they did, and about hard work. I showed them the Snatch and Clean and Jerk then opened the floor for questions and answers. During one of the demonstrations, the kids asked if I could arm wrestle their P.E. coach. I learned later on that he learned weightlifting from my old coach too. We looked at each other and mulled the idea over in our heads. I said, "You see, this is not an easy situation. If Coach Phil loses, he will be sad to have lost to a girl. If I lose I will be sad because I am an Olympian and I hate losing." Well, we shook hands and had our match. For a split second, I thought I had a chance at winning! Instead, I lost. Darn it!
After the day was over, I was pretty sunburned and exhausted. I took a nap for about three hours and had to force myself to get up and eat and then go get a dress for my presentation. Before dinner we headed over to the Target clearance rack and found the best dress we could, a black and white striped summer dress. I also found a pair of hideous jaguar earrings. We ate dinner and went to bed.
The next day was a symposium followed by another talk and demonstration. I gave a talk at the symposium about developing the Olympian within you. I began the talk with a terribly cheesy joke about myself. Wearing the black and white dress with the sunburn, I couldn't resist asking, "What's black and white and red all over?" That got some laughs. My main topics were "working hard" and "dreaming big." The speaker ahead of me said a lot of things I wanted to say so I had to make some slight changes to the speech. I decided to have a dialogue with the audience. I asked the students to stand up and tell me what their dreams were and we had an applause after each one. I began talking about the importance of hard work and gave some example of my own life and career. Afterwards, the three main speakers as well as some other community leaders were panelist for more discussions. We spoke to three different groups of kids and answered any of their questions about our careers.
Afterwards, I got several compliments about my speech even from the CEO of the school. She told me that I was a great speaker and she's "heard a lot of speeches" in her day. She appreciated the techniques I used and the message I had to convey. I was encouraged to think about speaking more full-time after I was done training and other such compliments. The only training I have had in speaking was my senior project about throwing shot put and discus my senior year of high school: Keep eye contact, stay on point, no jargon, look nice, etc. Overall I am pleased with my speech and I am very encouraged to do more speaking in the future.
I then got ready to speak to the elementary school kids. kindergarten through 5th grade. I have to say that was probably the most fun. Before I got started I went and gave a lot of the kids hi-fives. I didn't know this before I went but my old coach's kids both went to that school. I gave them hugs and talked really quickly before I got started. I told the group a little bit about me, weightlifting, and the Olympics. I told them to work hard and do well in school. I asked them who thought they were strong and almost all of the kids raised their hands. I told them I got to travel the world and have fun while doing my job. I showed them how to Snatch and Clean and Jerk and told them the more the clapped, the stronger I became. I was asked awesome questions like, "Have you ever been to California?" "Have you ever seen a Burmese Python?" and "Can you lift a black robot-dragon?"
When I was done, before I had to leave to fly back to Phoenix, I shook a lot of hands, got a lot of hugs, group hugs, pictures, I flexed, and the best part of the day was hearing a little girl say, "I want to be just like you!"