Here is the link for the audio of the speech: Yolo Decision


Good Morning Everyone!

Welcome to the course YOLO 101!

Think before you act” is the concept that you are usually taught. However, in this course, you will be taught the opposite. You will learn how to make a decision without thinking–or you can simply say, “Just YOLO IT!!!”

These decisions are wild but they aren’t always bad because sometimes without you acknowledging their positive impacts, they may lead you to a righteous path. It’s true that you have to make your decision wisely but your brain is not always bright enough to analyze the problem in order to make a good choice. That is when you need to have trust in your instinct and follow what your gut says.

After a brief summary of the course, I am sure that these questions are popping in your head right now: What is she talking about? Is she insane? Here’s my answer for you: Yes, I know what I am talking about. And no, I am not crazy. I made a YOLO decision about five years ago. When I decided to make that choice, I thought that I was going to regret this forever. However, it did not happen as the way as I thought it would be. In the end, I was glad that I made that choice.

About five years ago, I used to say, “Sorry, I don’t understand” whenever I met someone. I moved to Minnesota, U.S., when I was a freshman in high school. I did not know any English words besides, “I don’t understand.” I was pretty well prepared right? I know. I did not have any positive thought about this new environment. I didn’t like to live in a country where I didn’t know the culture, couldn’t understand the language, and couldn’t eat any food. It was like starting everything over with a blank sheet of paper. I was completely clueless.

I was a shy and quiet person. You know, some people extremely hate some specific words or phrases like the b-word or the f-word. For me, I didn’t like the phrase “Making new friends.” It was not that I hated it or anything; I just did not want to “befriend” with that phrase. My belief was, “What is the point of being friend with someone when you just can’t understand or speak their language?” Basically, you could say that I was a pathetic introvert.

So now, you have some idea how miserable I was. Then, the time of the year came: The Clubs Involvement Day. My family pushed me to join some kind of clubs or sport teams in order to change myself into an outgoing person and at the same time make some new friends. At first, I was not interested in any clubs. But, all of a sudden, Speech and Debate Team caught my attention. So I decided to join the team.

Many of you may wonder why I joined the team. If I tell you that I joined because I wanted to improve my English and make friends, would you believe me? If your answer is yes, then you did not listen to my story carefully. So just take a moment, go back like a few seconds ago and hit a refresh button in your brain so you can remember what I said.

I joined Speech and Debate because I did not even know why. I just joined it. I did not have any ideas what I would do in that club. I just thought to myself, “Well just join it. If anything happens, I can drop it. I have nothing to lose.” So there I was, just a member of a club that I was not even interested in.

The first day was so great that it made me want to quit. My coaches introduced themselves and explained how speech and debate work. They wanted each member to have their own piece ready by two weeks after the meeting, which included a section of a novel that I had to read and an introduction I had to write. Great! I could read an entire novel and write an introduction within two weeks. Of course I could not do that! I barely knew English, how could I do it? So I told my brother that I was not going to do Speech and Debate anymore.

“Woah, are you actually a quitter? Did you try yet?” my brother said. So I gave it a try. Do you feel like sometimes, there is a moment you sit down and think to yourself that everything will be fine? Because I do have that moment sometimes. At that time, there was a moment that my gut told me, “It is just writing, reading, and speaking. It will not be too bad. Just do it!” So I started to do my research about books that could reflect the society issues. I picked a book and began to read nonstop. I was committed to the work without any reason. At first, it was frustrating because I had to translate every single word in the novel. Then I realized that some English words were similar to French, which I learned in first grade. And, so as I read, I predicted the meaning of the words. When I finished the book, I started to write my introduction for the story. The writing was a bit harder than the reading, but I pushed myself to “swallow” all the grammar rules and new vocabulary within a short amount of time. Two weeks had passed, I finally got my piece and “shitty” first draft of the introduction ready. Wow, now that I think back I had never tried that hard in my life before.

Here comes the part that not only is mine, but also everyone’s “enemy”: Delivering a speech. Back in Vietnam, I usually went to school, did my work, and went home. I did not have a lot of friends because I rarely talked to people. As you can see I was pretty social right? For group work, I always chose to do the behind the scene part, and my partner would do the presenting. My fear was more than anyone else’s at the moment because besides my lack of confidence, I had a hard time pronouncing English words. I remember that my coaches had a hard time fixing my pronunciation. They broke down the words for me and taught me some “cheating” ways in order to speak correctly. For example, using British accent to pronounce a word or swallowing some syllables to make the word more understandable for the listeners. After each competition, my coaches wanted me to re-read the portion that I chose for my speech and to rewrite my introduction so I could have a better understanding of the piece in order to deliver the right message to the audience.

If I tell you that my skills in reading, writing, and speaking improved dramatically after one year joining Speech and Debate team, would you believe it? If you do, then you just have no common sense. Those skills didn’t improve dramatically, but they improved slowly after time. After one year, I found a reason for myself to stay in the team. I believed that in order to become a successful person, I must have confident and know to how to convince people. I need to be a good speaker. So I stayed in the activity during my sophomore and junior year. After that, I got more and more successful in Speech competitions, and I couldn’t only feel my skills ability to speak, write, and read in English develop, but my confidence also started to build. In addition, people around me, including my family members, started to say that my personality changed, that I am more open than I was before.

Now, whenever I think back about my first year in high school, I am glad that I made the risky decision of joining speech. Speech helped me to become a friendly and outgoing person, and more importantly, it helped me to improve my English and to become a confident person.

As you can see, a YOLO decision is not a wrong choice. I am who I am today because five years ago, my gut was bigger than my brain for a moment which made me choose Speech and Debate. If it wasn’t for speech and debate, trust me you would hear an “Alien” language instead of English right now.

Thank you for coming to the course. And remember, sometimes you have to dim the light in your brain for a bit and follow what your gut tells you. I promise you that you will not regret that decision.

Once again, thank you.

Have a good rest of your day.