My Public Speaking Family by Caie Kelley
We asked teens around the world: How does your community affect your identity or sense of self? Caie Kelley, a teen from California, responds.
In high school, my greatest community has been my public speaking family — the group of students I have spent almost every Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights with for the past four years. Through speech and debate I have gained a sense of myself.
I have learned that I value most the ability to communicate with others through words. Speech and debate taught me the issues that I cared about, forced me to put myself out there, and allowed me to discover the delight that rises when I put myself in uncomfortable situations. From my community of public speakers, I have learned that even though my passions may lie in areas that aren’t the most “cool,” what I do has value because of the enjoyment I find in this activity. I have learned to shift the perspective of those around me when advocating for governmental change, and the importance of simple strategies to influence an audience, like sustained eye contact or hand gestures. Beyond these skills, however, I have also learned the importance of having a support group behind me. These public speaking teammates have been there after every late night spent in a final round.They have been there for endless Apples-to-Apples games.
What I value most about these individuals is that as I’ve learned their pet peeves and secret talents, I have gained meaningful connections with the world around me. Speech and debate is more than just learning how to articulate my thoughts.