Alicia Wong is an ACE Action Fellow who is writing a monthly blog series on her experiences with her fellowship. Last month, she spoke to the Washoe County Board of Health about the Idle Free Schools Campaign.
The end of November was a crazy yet interesting time for me. I don't mean this in a bad way though. A lot of eventful things have happened: including going to the Reno 20 Under 40 Awards and giving two pretty big presentations. One presentation was to the Washoe County Board of Health on the Idle Free Schools campaign.
I wrote a speech a few days before the presentation so that I would be prepared. On the Tuesday before the presentation, Rebecca Anderson and I met up so she could help me revise my speech. Rebecca told me to add in some things and change some parts around. After about 45 minutes, my speech told the story of how Idle Free Schools came to be and the many successes we’ve achieved along the way. I read it in front of her and I knew I needed LOTS of practice. I added in notes in some parts: when to pause, when to look up, what tone to use, etc.
For the next few days, I read my speech over and over again. When Thursday came along, I felt a little more confident. On my way to the Washoe County offices with Rebecca, I kept reading my speech to her. I wanted it to sound perfect. After a few practice runs, I sounded a lot more confident. When we went into the room where the meeting was held, it was kind of intimidating. The Washoe County Health Board was seated above us at a big table and microphones. I was the only teenager there.
When the meeting started, I started to relax a little bit more. I had no idea when I was going to have to give my speech, so I kept looking it over just to make sure I wasn't missing anything. When Julie Hunter (from AQMD) introduced Rebecca and me, I thought: "Oh boy, here we go…." I went to the front of the room, took the microphone, inhaled one big deep breath and began. While reading my speech, I felt like I was talking really fast but I consciously tried to speak slowly. I only stumbled a couple times. The room was silent as I talked, and all eyes were on me. When I told the Board that my school had reduced average idling time by 63%, there were gasps of amazement. And when I told the Board about our goal of having the school district adopt an Idle Free policy, there was lots of head-nodding and sounds of approval.
After my speech, we took pictures with our fancy new certificate. I felt so relieved that my speech was over. Rebecca told me about all the positive reactions from the audience to the accomplishments of the Idle Free Schools campaign. I was very happy that they liked my speech, which made me feel so much better.
This was my first speech as a fellow for ACE. Although it was nerve-racking and intimidating, I did it! This experience made me feel more confident speaking to adults, even in a formal situation like the Board of Health. Now I tell people: "If I can go in front of the Washoe County Health Board, you can be brave too.”