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"Climate Change isn't a distant threat. It is our reality"
Selina Neirok's powerful speech on the impact of climate change on her home island in the Pacific ocean, set the ball rolling for discussions about the content and also the manner of delivery.
Selina Neirok, is a youth climate warrior from the Marshall Islands, located in central Pacific Ocean. At the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21), Selina represented her country as the Summit’s youngest delegate. She made a passionate plea to global leaders for stronger action on climate change. In her TED talk on climate change she tells the story of destruction caused by climate change. She appeals to the audience to help her country’s people for they are bearing the wrath of nature although they have not had any role to play in the cause of climate change.
How we stumbled upon this speech and why we chose to talk about it
There is a lot that is being written about on climate change in the newspapers. On a daily basis however we may not feel the impact much other than the unexpected rise in temperatures that comes and goes. One of the young executives in the group, brought this speech to our virtual talking table at Talkingcircles.in. She thought that this speech would be relevant to the activity that we are currently working on at the Young Executives’ Club- Understanding Climate Change and The Various Angles To It.
Analysing the content and breaking down what makes the speech so powerful and thought provoking
I watched it a couple of times before sharing it with the group. The group watched the video and soon after there was silence. It was evident that the speech had much impact on them not just in terms of how real the subject is but also in terms of how impactfully this young girl from a small island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, could speak, with such confidence. Her speech was an excellent example of writing too. The right choice of words to convey the intended message in the least amount of time and yet leaving an ever lasting impression on the listeners. Delivering this kind of a speech with a purpose must have been a huge event for her that demanded immense number of rehearsals. Her dedication, her drive to make a difference, to find a way to survive, to save her country from imminent destruction caused by something that they did not even contribute to.
Selina Neirok Leem: Climate change isn't a distant threat -- it's our reality
Reactions from the teen members of the Young Executives’ Club
Being aware and responsible for our actions: We don’t think twice before driving a car or turning on the AC. To think that something as routine and simple as this can have a huge impact on people’s lives living far away is shocking. It reinforces the importance of having a sense of responsibility to all our actions. It raises the question, how can we do this differently?
The emotional aspect of her speech: Many of the teens were moved by the reference to her grandparents’ graves and her determination not to give up.
Her poise: She held herself together and did not break down when she spoke about her grandparents’ graves being submerged.
Discussions about the manner in which she delivered the speech
If you have watched the video you would know that the speech begins with a short poem. The group debated about poetry being an effective means to deliver an intended message in a speech.
Those in favour of poetry argued:
It is a great idea if the poem is in English, so that most people would understand.
Choice of words matter in any speech- Poetry helps immensely in this respect.
Those against poetry argued:
Not necessary, especially long poems could bore the audience.
A poem in a language that one doesn’t understand could put off the audience.
Reading/writing poetry for pleasure is fine but to listen to someone reciting a poem can be quite banal.
The fine aspects of the speech delivery
The poem was a short and beautiful way to catch attention of the audience. The words were carefully chosen.
She had eye contact with the audience throughout.
The way she described the island, made it very easy to visualise and this played a big role in feeling the adverse impact of climate change which she reveals one by one soon after.
Striking a chord with human emotions is the key to engage the audience. Several in the group once again referred to the anecdote of the grandparents’ graves being submerged as the sea levels rose around the island.
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