By Emily Goldberg, Layout Editor and Social Media Manager
I sat down at my dorm room desk on a gloomy Wednesday afternoon, opened my laptop, and attempted to come up with a topic for my final speech for my Speech 1010 class taught by Professor Russell. Yes, I am a sophomore in Speech 1010, don’t ask me how that happened, because I don’t know either. Deciding on a topic to present is actually a lot harder than it seems. I delved deep into the apparently dark and empty depths of my mind in an attempt to conjure up an idea that I am passionate about, but to no avail. I contemplated all the extracurricular activities I participate in, the causes I like to support, and even the school topics I enjoy, each one popping up in my head only to cross the idea off my not-so-long list of proposals because of some inherent flaw.
As my last resort, I opened up a new tab on my computer and entered “speech topics” into Google in a desperate attempt to find some sort of solution. I endlessly scrolled through the extensive lists of subjects on various websites without any success. I started to wonder if I was really such a boring person. Was there really nothing I was passionate about, even if just enough to prepare a 7 to 9-minute presentation for a class? I could literally present anything, yet I still could not think of a proposition.
Then, a topic on one of these lists caught my attention, and I am pretty sure it appeared out of thin air. At the very bottom of one internet page, there was an idea to present “the history of one’s hometown.” I thought to myself, I grew up in a pretty unique place. This idea might just work. I grew up in a small town in Massachusetts that I promise you have never heard of before. When I tell people where I grew up, most often the response I receive is “You grew up where?”
So in an endeavor to finish my speech so that I could at least cross one assignment off my list of never-ending homework, I started to work on preparing my presentation (don’t worry Professor Russell, I would never “make a speech”). One piece of advice that Professor Russell always stresses in his class, is to make the ending of your presentation deliberate. Naturally, while thinking of a unique way to end my speech and leave my audience with a message that they could all relate to, I got to thinking about all the experiences I had growing up in my small town that I could potentially share.
This reflective activity made me ponder not only my childhood experiences, but my future as well. As I move on to new stages of my life, I would be remiss if I did not admit that I am a little bit sad that I no longer get to enjoy the daily experiences of growing up in my bright and cheerful hometown. It will most likely never be my permanent residence again.
However, I am very thankful to live in New York City while I attend Yeshiva University, because of the new encounters and resources it has provided me with, even if this experience will eventually come to an end as well. I am grateful to be able to explore this city, which I retrospectively understand is only a small extent of the world we live in. However, I have also come to terms with the fact that in time, I will leave this city in the past too, and move on to the next adventure in my life.
Moreover, with the experience of rendering this presentation came with the recognition that I am not without passions. For example, the moment I joined YU I knew undoubtedly that I wanted to join the newspaper staff. I was the layout editor for my high school newspaper and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, so applying to be a layout editor for the YU Observer was an obvious decision for me.
Being a layout editor and writing for the YU Observer has opened my eyes to the amazing opportunities that journalism provides to those who choose to delve into it. Personally, it allows me to research topics I am interested in, and might actually need to learn more about, and to utilize my passion for writing in order to share my ideas with others.
The world that we live in is so wide, and there is so much out there that we just don’t know about. Especially after growing up in a small town, I know how easy it can be to remain insular and within a small community for a long period of time. However, G-d created every aspect of this world and gave it to us in order to seek out the knowledge hidden within it. What a waste it would be if we did not endeavor to explore every aspect of this amazing universe G-d provided us with. Journalism has provided me with the opportunity to step outside my small-town life in order to explore this vast world in my own way, and for that I am grateful.
The world is your oyster. At times, it might seem like a solemn place full of daunting tasks, but we are all capable of achieving anything we put our minds to. If you want, you can follow in my footsteps and use your new discoveries about this world and your talents to write an article for the YU Observer. Or if that doesn’t speak to you, use them for something else. Conquer your passions, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll learn something new about the world along the way.
This might be the end of my last 7 to 9-minute speeches for speech class. It might be the end of a semester. It may even be the end of growing up in my small town. But I have come to appreciate that this is only the beginning of a never-ending journey of exploring the great wide and precious world that G-d has given to us as a gift.
As I am writing this article, I am sitting on the train traveling from my small suburban hometown back to the great and sometimes daunting New York City with a new speech presentation on my laptop waiting to be shared with others. I sure hope my teacher likes it. We’ll just have to see how it goes.