The Years of “Toasting New Beginnings”

In August 2005 we started a club known as the HAU Athens Toastmasters with the help of the Hellenic American Union (HAU) in Athens Greece. This was the first of its kind. They said it could not be done, that Greeks were not interested in a “club” for public speaking (it’s in their blood!), and that I was too much of an idealist.

Barbara Kondilis

My favorite book as a kid was “The Little Engine that Could” where a little blue engine train struggles to go up the hill saying to itself, “I think I can, I think I can…” eventually going over hills and valleys with little to no effort. The same thought process was taken into the formation of the HAU Athens Toastmasters club.

The last two years have truly been years of NEW BEGINNINGS for both myself and for the club. The beginning of this club is the realization of the Toastmasters International Vision: Toastmasters International empowers people to achieve their full potential and realize their dreams.

I came to Greece with a dream of building in the areas of public health and social work (my field of study) and saw a need for people to cultivate both their public speaking skills and their career development skills. This, of course, did not happen without some challenges, but as they say, “if at first, you don’t succeed, try and try again!” We tried again, with new recruitment strategies, and kept plugging on… We increased our membership to the current 20+ members and with the achievement of several other club goals we have received several Distinguished Club Awards over the years! Congratulations!

We have all achieved it! I want to especially thank my fellow officers — my team — for making my own dream a reality and I look forward to working with them in the near future. I give members five simple steps in helping to achieve their personal Toastmasters goals:

  • Don’t fret about your topic, pick one and go!
  • Never apologize for not preparing a speech…. Just do it!
  • Learn about teamwork – support your fellow toastmasters, a little help goes a long way!
  • Give feedback like it’s the most precious piece of advice one will get TODAY
  • If at first, you don’t succeed, try and try again!

The years of new beginnings have truly been a success.

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” Herman Cain

Barbara Kondilis DTM
Past President (2005-2007) & Founder, HAU Athens Toastmasters Club

7 September 2007