A Unique Bus Ride Tradition

By Carol Chan

On every international service project, we have a tradition of doing impromptu speeches. These speeches occur during long bus rides. Rovers are chosen randomly by our head advisor, John Chow, and are given a choice of two topics to speak about for 3 minutes. Since leadership, communication, teamwork, time management and public speaking are the most common skills that Rovers want to gain, these speeches were started in order to give Rovers an opportunity to speak spontaneously. In addition, we hope that through these speeches, Rovers will be able to speak about any topic for at least 3 minutes in front of a substantial audience. After each speech, the contingent votes on the quality of the speech with thumbs up, sideways, or down. If two or more Rovers vote sideways or down, the Rover has to come up at a later time to do another speech on new topics.


Scouter John is notorious for coming up with very random topics to keep Rovers and Advisors on their toes. For example, during a previous international service project, Clarice, one of our advisors, had to speak about the advantages and disadvantages of front or rear wheel driving. She described that leaders need to know how to lead, but they also need to know how to follow. Like cars, they can decide whether or not they want to be front wheel drive or rear wheel drive. Although she did not know a lot about cars, she was able to talk about the topic as an analogy for different leadership styles.In our Rover Crew, personal development does not stop even when we are halfway around the globe. Today, during our 5 hour bus ride from Malacca to Singapore, Scouter John started picking people to speak. When I first heard about this, just thinking about it was terrifying since I am not good at public speaking. When I was chosen to speak, however, it was not as bad as I imagined. The contingent was very supportive throughout and after my speech. I was assigned a relatively easy topic outlining the advantages of living in humid 35 degree weather. Other topics touched on ISIS, nuclear warfare, the universe, and relationship advice. By listening to these speeches, I was able to learn a lot more about my contingent members. Some shared with us their deepest concerns and fears, while others were able to show us their humour and wit.

Although these speeches are scary, I think that they are a good way to get Rovers to step outside their comfort zones. Even if we do not do well, there is no real consequence. The bus speeches offer us a safe place to fail, but also enough pressure and anxiety to promote personal development and growth.


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