Thank you

Fellow Toastmasters,

I want to take a moment to thank all the people that brought us to today’s Business Meeting, and the election of our District officers for 2024-2025’s program year: the District Leadership committee members who interviewed a total of ten candidates for Division Director roles and the District trio roles; the members who nominated their fellow Toastmasters to these offices; the functionaries and presenters who helped run Tuesday’s Candidate Showcase; and the candidates themselves, who approached the roles for which they’re running with thoughtfulness and humility.

On Monday, 8 April 2024 — I took time off from preparing for today to rush three hours north to see the total eclipse of the Sun. We spent three hours traveling north, before we found a suitable spot on an access road to a field outside Middlebury, VT. There was an unplanned encampment of about 100 cars along this gravel road, where my wife and I sat with a nice stranger named Mary whose brother asked her to go in his place (he was stuck at home with a fever of 100°), and some kids who were much more interested in playing in the mud and their harried parents, and a Indian family of maybe 30 people who had come in at least six cars in a caravan.  There were some teenagers who had road-tripped from Boston.  Together, we watched as the Moon took a bite out of the Sun through our eclipse glasses, and then swallowed the whole thing.  It took no more than two minutes, and it started ending almost as soon as it began.  We hung out another 15 minutes, but mindful of a long drive home getting longer with traffic by the minute, we pulled out onto the highway. Then we drove home, 3 hours of back roads, going the speed limit the whole way and uninterrupted by traffic or delay. 

Those two minutes changed me, even so. Six hours of driving on unfamiliar roads, for a sight — stunning in its majesty — of a ring of light in the sky with a darkness at its heart.  I think that at least one of the ways I’ll subdivide my life in the future is “before I saw a total eclipse of the sun” and “after I saw a total eclipse of the sun.” 

There’s no telling if being a District officer will change you in the same way — but I certainly think of my life as divided in two parts, “before District service” and “after District service.”  Yesterday I went to my town’s Annual Caucus, and agreed to be nominated to run in the election for Select Board, the committee of three that runs my tiny town.  I wouldn’t have had the courage to do that before I was a District Officer — and now I do.  My former fears… have perhaps been… eclipsed by a recognition of both my personal competence, and a desire to be of service.

May today’s Business Meeting, where we elect our slate of District officers for the 2024-2025 program year, be the start of something similarly large, for all of us — and especially our candidates.

Andrew B. Watt, DTM
Past District Director 2020-2021
Interim Chair, District 53 Leadership Committee 2023-2024