LOL, that’s what one of the speakers at the I.LEAD conference said about me when he began his speech.
I was asked by the organizers to talk about youth engagement and empowerment.
The whole theme of the conference was youth engagement and empowerment.
And the weird thing was they contacted me a few weeks ago and asked me if I could do it.
And me, I always figure these kinds of invitations come with some purpose from God behind them, so I was free and I said yes, I’d do it.
But when I got the topic: youth engagement and empowerment, this little impish voice at the back of my mind said, “Why bother?”
At least that’s the first thought that would occur to me if I was still a youth, and heard the phrase, so I asked them to add that little tail to the title, so my topic became Youth Engagement and Empowerment–Why Bother?
And then it was my husband who pointed out that I was actually the first speaker of the day, and that meant that my speech was like the keynote, it would set the tone for the rest of the one day conference.
As if I didn’t have enough pressure on me already!
And yes, apparently mine was a kind of key note.
So I spent most of the last week working on my speech. Mentioned it in a previous post.
Anyway, went to Ottawa on Friday afternoon and I was asked to present to one of the masjids that was going to be there at the conference, give them a bit of a teaser so I ended up basically telling them about my background, kind of a modified version of my Coming To Canada presentation.
They loved it!
Was mobbed afterwards with people buying books.
Then things got a bit muddled for me because one of the gentlemen suggested I do that storytelling session as my speech since it does actually deal with me, as a youth, becoming engaged and empowered.
I thought, “Should I?”
Storytelling is ALWAYS more engaging than reading off a speech!
But when I spoke to one of the organizers the next morning about the idea, you should have seen her face blanche. Then I told her not to worry, I was perfectly prepared to do the speech I’d prepared, no problem.
I know how hard it is to put together a conference like this! She hadn’t slept or eaten for the whole of last week!
So I got up there and did the speech, and THEY LOVED IT!
They laughed at all the right spots!
And for the rest of the day, I could hardly walk twenty feet without someone coming up to me and telling me how much they loved the speech.
And the youth!!!
They said how I’d actually put into words the frustrations they’d been feeling for so long!
Omigosh, the adulation!
It was quite disorienting.
Yeah, it was an okay speech, but I really can’t figure out what the big deal was.
I just covered the topic as I was supposed to.
I even had people coming up to me and saying it was the best speech of the conference and others (about five independent sources) said that after hearing my speech they thought, “Yup. I got what I came for. I can go home now.” And they felt that the $20 fee for the conference was worth the price of that alone!
I was sitting in the VIP area, beside a lovely Christian lady who was a school trustee or councillor or something. She said she was really looking forward to my speech.
When I came down from the stage she said, “You really woke them up!” and then she added, “Loved it! You could have been talking about any group of people!”
Basically she was referring to the issues I’d raised about youth and how her Christian community was experiencing similar issues.
One of my friends said she couldn’t believe I’d said the word ‘ejaculation’ in it! Which is probably why one of the Muslim leaders, while he also loved the speech, said it was wonderful, but also said it had little ‘spikes’ in it.
When I pressed him for what he meant, he wouldn’t elaborate, but basically intimated that there were some ‘impolite’ things.
I asked, “What impolite things?”
He just smiled, “Just little spikes…but it was a good speech! Just little spikes.”
That’s all he would say.
I think he was referring to the ejaculation phrase. Honestly I was just referring to when Islamically a boy becomes a man, it’s when he starts ejaculating and for girls, they are considered women when they start menstruating. That’s what I said, plain and simple.
And the thing is Islamically there is absolutely nothing wrong with using such frank language. In fact the Prophet (peace be upon him) deliberately said there was no ‘shyness or shame’ (the word he used was hayat) when it comes to religion. And many of his hadith are outright frank and explicit.
I think the people at ILEAD will be putting up the speech online. When they do, insha Allah, I’ll post a link to it.
They had a HUGE turnout for the conference. They were hoping for 2000, they got over 2700.
And it was a united front with all ten Muslim organizations in the Ottawa region represented! Quite a coup!
Maybe now that I’ve gotten that off my chest I can go to sleep now. It was boggling me so much I couldn’t sleep and I have two presentations in seven hours!
Over and out.