Public speaking is usually something I try to avoid as a whole, but last week I sucked it up and made an announcement to my 200+ person history class about our independent study. I don’t think I spoke for much more than one minute, but even during that short amount of time I could see interest spark in some people’s faces.
I briefly explained what we were doing as a group and why addressing this issue was so important. I could tell that there were people in the room who had no idea that this was such an issue. Also in my quick speech I explained the signage we have been collected and told them that everyone would be asked to make one in their discussion section the following day.
Since I didn’t have much time to discuss everything in class, I sent an e-mail to both TAs further explaining what we were doing and asked them if they would pass on what I was saying to them. I figured it probably would have been more helpful if I could have spoken to each class myself, but that did not come to be possible. When I was speaking with my TA after our section, she said that ours was the most talkative of her three sections, and it may have been because I was there to explain it myself, so I guess that is something to keep in mind for the future.
During my section I was able to talk for a bit longer about the student debt crisis and what we are trying to do in regards to it. By speaking to a smaller group I actually felt more empowered and as if I was telling them all something with a purpose, rather than trying to quickly rattle of information on something so important while in a lecture hall.
Everyone took about five or so minutes to create a piece of signage. Most of them were a few words, and some drew pictures. One of the guys next to me sat there for a few minutes, told me he had nothing to write because he had a business plan to sell drugs and quickly pay off his student debt after graduation, and that he had nothing to worry about. So that was that.
My TA then began a discussion about everyone’s thoughts on student debt, and a lot of people seemed to really get into it. It seemed as if there was a lot of anxiety and worry about what some of them were going to do about the tens of thousands of dollars in debt they’ve racked up while being at UMass. The dialogue continued for about twenty minutes and overall I would say it was very successful.