This moment is a particular honour. I pen these words grateful for the trust bestowed upon me as Charter President of The Future and humbled by the task that lays before us as a club. This club is very close to my heart.
I have always had a keen interest in languages with a dream of being a spokesperson of a multi-national. Six years ago, I applied for what I believed was my dream job but did not secure it because I could not speak French. I was shattered but that rejection sparked an interest in me to learn the language. What followed was an intensive four-and-a-half-year journey at the world’s largest French learning centre, Alliance Française. Two years into that journey, I discovered Toastmasters and it has changed the course of my life and has been a positive force towards my dream.
Earlier this year, I had a casual conversation with Immediate Past District Director, Frank Tsuro, about the languages I speak (French being one of them). “As a District, we tried to launch a French club on a few occasions but were unsuccessful. Would you be interested in championing a bi-lingual club?” That was never part of the plan, but I’ve learnt to follow my instinct more than ever before because it is more powerful than reason and life will lead you to an interesting place if you stay with the flow. I’m so glad I did because the culmination of that tête-à-tête is the first-ever bi-lingual Anglo-Francophone Toastmasters club in Southern Africa, aptly christened L’Avenir, which, in French, means The Future.
L’Avenir Toastmasters is not an ordinary Toastmasters club. It is a network of professionals seeking to unlock opportunities in their personal lives, in business and in their careers. It is the ultimate language and cultural immersion experience, bringing together two of the world’s most widely spoken languages.
I received an overwhelming amount of assistance and guidance along the journey to unveiling L’Avenir. In fact, I would not be penning these words as its Charter President without the unyielding support of Frank and Andrew Tsuro, two dedicated and experienced Toastmasters who have walked this path on more than one occasions and have launched several clubs between them. To you, Messieurs: Profonde reconnaissance et sincère remerciements pour votre soutien et précieuse contribution. Thank you for all the support you’ve given me on this journey. I am grateful for you both.
To our Club Mentor, Dan Mukendi, thank you for agreeing to share your knowledge and expertise in the French language with us. You are a critical link to the club’s success and I, together with the Exco, look forward to working with you in the club’s unfolding.
To the newly elected club Exco: Thank you for your commitment to serve the members of L’Avenir. I look forward to a fruitful tenure ahead.
And last, but not least: To the charter members, the pioneers of The Future. Les membres fondateur de L’Avenir Toastmasters:
It’s been a long time coming. I’m honoured that you have committed to The Future. We are creating a heritage that starts here. As Charter President, I understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. Even as we celebrate the charter of this club, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring. As the first-ever bi-lingual Anglo-Francophone club, this model is still unfolding. We may not get there in six months or even in a year, but I have never more hopeful that we will get there. It’s going to be uncomfortable as we expose our vulnerability to each other in a language not our own.
But what remains is that L’Avenir Toasmasters will open doors and unlock opportunities that exist within the Anglo-Francophone sphere, but it cannot happen without you. I ask each of you to join in the work of making this club great.
This club is a first for Southern Africa and many stories will be told from it.
This is our moment. Our time.
Je m’appelle Maud. Je suis honoré d’être votre président fondateur et j’ai hâte de créer l’avenir avec vous parce que nous sommes L’Avenir et L’Avenir commence ici.
Bienvenue L’Avenir Toastmasters. Club Number 07597823. Chartered 28 September 2019. We cannot wait to see you unfold as we showcase you to the world.
Here’s to The Future…