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Going Solo

Nida Spalding loves to read, travel, and spend time with family and friends. She believes that curiosity and persistence are key to happiness and success.

Every year in August, Toastmasters from all over the world gather in one place to be inspired, to sharpen their communication and leadership skills, and witness the World Championship of Public Speaking.

In 2017, the Toastmasters International convention was in Vancouver, British Columbia. When my friend Eva couldn't go, I was not going to go either. But I had never been to a Toastmasters convention. And I wanted to see Vancouver. I decided to go solo.

Once I made the decision to go. I started planning and researching. With the Internet, it is so easy to find information. Google everything. I looked online to see what to expect, I talked to fellow Toastmasters who have attended the convention. I called Toastmasters International and visited the website. I booked my hotel first, booked my flight, then registered for the convention, ensuring I got the discounted early registration rate.

I didn't stay at any of the four recommended hotels close to the convention venue. I stayed at Kingston Hotel Bed and Breakfast, only two blocks away from Canada Line, their light rail system. Built for the 2010 Olympics, the light rail system took me from the airport to the hotel and from my hotel—the Vancouver Convention Center was only one train stop away. Perfect!







The Parade of Flags at the Opening Ceremonies was something special. Many Toastmasters come dressed in their country's costume. I met Toastmasters from Sri Lanka, France, Spain, China, and England.

The speakers in the semi-finals were excellent; anyone of them could be the next world champion. And the World Championship of Public Speaking is something every Toastmaster should experience. The buzz of excitement and anticipation was unmistakable. It is INDEED the world's stage.

Toastmasters International conventions are held in exciting places. Many Toastmasters skip some activities and go sightseeing instead. For the most part, I resisted the temptation. I was there for the Toastmasters Convention, for the full experience.
There were activities aplenty. But I missed the First Timers orientation. I didn't go on the 5K Smedley run. I missed the Golden Gavel award. I didn't attend the sing-alongs, networking lunch or the President's Inauguration Reception and Celebration. One day, I went with a fellow Toastmaster to Vancouver's Chinatown for lunch.



















I attended most of the educational sessions. The presenters were phenomenal. One of my favorites is Shailee Basnet, the Mt. Everest summiter from Nepal. Shailee is a lady mountaineer and freelance trekking guide. She coordinated the Seven Women Summits Team, the world's first female group to climb the highest mountain in each continent. Shailee is also a journalist and a comedian.

On the last day of the convention, I ducked out of the business meeting and took the Vancouver trolley on the city and park tour, getting a glimpse of the City. In the morning of my departure, I took the bus to the University of British Columbia to see the Museum of Anthropology. Between the convention activities and beautiful sights in Vancouver, there was too much to see and do in just five days.

Are you traveling alone? A friend asked me when she saw my Vancouver pictures on Facebook. I thought, not really. Over 25 Toastmasters from Sacramento were there. But technically, yes.

Was I glad I went? Absolutely! Did I regret going alone? No. It might have been more fun had I traveled with a friend. In 2020, it will be in Paris, France. I am tempted to go solo. But on second thought, I will see if my friend Eva wants to go.

~ Nida Spalding



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