I belong to an organization of about 260,000 members called Toastmasters International. Its core values include “integrity, dedication to excellence, service to the member, and respect for the individual. ” One demonstration of service to members—the High Performance Leadership project—gives experienced members an opportunity to identify an opportunity to serve any community, and to choose and lead a team to carry out the service leadership mission.
Enter Attila Nemes, a member of the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center Toastmasters club. Because the club attracts a high number of members whose native language is not English, many discover they are not even able to pronounce each other’s names correctly. Some, out of frustration, change the name they were born with to an American-looking and American-sounding name. Hungarian-born Ph.D. Nemes has assembled a team with a daunting task: to help members of the club learn to say each other’s names in a comfortable, no-akward-moments way. In a group that includes members from the Indian subcontinent, from Europe and from the Far East, it will be a challenge. As a professional, he will receive no compensation for leading the project team. He could have chosen a project far more related to his field of expertise. He chose to contribute to a cause far different. One that has potential not only for about 35 people, but also for a far wider group. The project is on its way.