Conference Time: ‘More Important Than the President!

I was invited to speak at a conference held in the school I work at, and asked to speak for an hour about Northern Ireland, its place in Ireland and the UK, the culture, society, politics and economy. I figured YOLO (Well not literally, I’m neither 13 nor stupid) and got writing my speech The conference is in 2 days time: eesh that’s not long to write a speech.

The next day and my speech is coming along well. I’m finding the Spanish mostly ok and with the help of the Internet I find lots of stuff I can talk about. Then I find out that I’m not just speaking at the conference- I am the conference. Like, the entire conference (a hall of students at my school, and a hall of students in Cartagena via video link) is about me and Northern Ireland. Wow, talk about pressure.

Speech day is here and my keynote address is finally finished. With the help of Eileen and Samira we go through it and straighten out some mistakes in the Spanish and we practice un poquito. Finally it’s done.

Lots of sitting around. Lots of waiting. Seemingly endless Skype tests, microphone check-ups, and computer fidgeting. I don’t really know what’s going on. The time arrives to start, and of course nobody is here. Time keeping is not exactly a strength people have here. Within half an hour the hall is full and we are connected via video link to our amigos in Cartagena.

I give my speech. We have to pause a few times to fix the video link. I get a few laughs- luckily for my jokes, and not for my Spanish. I teach the students how to pour a Guinness, all about titanic, a brief history of the politics and religious conflict in NI, and tell them about our food, music and dance- and every other aspect of my culture I could think of.

Afterwards it’s question time. Queue the most difficult questions ever. “What do you know about Colombia?” “What do people in Ireland do to combat global warming?”, “What do you think about the current political situation in Colombia?” and my favourite question, “What kind of animals do you have in Ireland?” All in Spanish.

It was like the longest oral exam ever. Still, now that it’s over I think it went well. I’m defo now more prepared for further presentations in spanish, and after that tricky question sesh surely any oral test is going to be a complete doss from now on. I sure hope so anyway.

I’m going to sum up this article with the reaction of Leticia, the woman who I live with. She is obviously right.

Daniels. Es más importante que el presidente Juan Manuel Santos.

(Daniel, you’re more important than President Juan Manuel Santos.) Tell it like it is, Tish!


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