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Bilingual club spreads public speaking power in Federal Way

Eloquent speaking skills can take a person far in life.

Javier Robles is an example. He immigrated from Peru to the United States as a young man and pursued his childhood dream of working in the aerospace industry. Knowing how to present himself has helped him achieve his goals. Robles and others recently started a bilingual Spanish/English public speaking club, called Si Se Puede (Yes, You Can) to help others in the community learn how to command an audience, get their ideas heard and become leaders by mastering their public speaking ability.

"(Public) speaking is one of the most frightening things for an individual," Robles said.

Robles feels his life experiences will help members realize they can be leaders and make a difference. Robles came to America at age 21. As a child, he excelled in crafting model airplanes and his math abilities were strong. He dreamed of moving to America and working for Boeing. He was considered foolish by family members and his community.

"I was the black sheep in the family," Robles said. "I wanted to go to school. I had a dream."

Once he made it to the United States, Robles struggled to prove himself to his peers and Boeing bosses. But he eventually learned how to express himself and gained respect. Now, he wishes to pass on his wisdom.

"I can help people to do better," Robles said.

A good public speaker doesn't just talk. The person is charismatic, confident, optimistic and entertaining, Robles said. Robles learned this from life experiences — and his more than two decades in Toastmasters International.

"I realized how powerful a person can be when you really speak up about things," he said.

Si Se Puede takes a different approach to public speaking and leadership training. Members are bilingual. It does not matter if English is their first or second language, as long as they speak both English and Spanish fairly fluently. Members speak and learn leadership skills in both languages.

Gearing speech toward one's audience is important. For Si Se Puede members, learning both English and Hispanic customs and cultures will come hand-in-hand with learning communication skills, Robles said. Members will practice speaking, speech writing, listening skills and time management. They will be eligible to compete in regional, national and international public-speaking competitions hosted by sponsoring organizations.

Si Se Puede places a significant focus on learning how these skills can make a person a better leader. Many people are afraid of publicly declaring their opinions or sharing their ideas, Si Se Puede secretary Teniel Sabin said. For this reason, their ideas never get heard.

"Something I learned later on (in life) is your voice is one of the most powerful things that you have," she said.

Get involved

Club meetings will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. the third Thursday of each month at Federal Way City Hall, 33325 8th Ave. S. Contact: roblesfoundation@yahoo.com.

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