Thursday, September 23, 2010

J'ai fini!

Have you ever been told something and it just takes a 900lb weight that was making it hard to breathe off your shoulders?  Well, that's what it felt like the second I sat back in my chair after my presentation today.

I've done public speaking since my Jr year in HS starting with Y&G.  Freshman year I joined UCSB Gaucho Toastmasters and last yea I was its president.  I didn't think that speaking in front of 20 people could get me nervous anymore.  I was wrong.

I think the main reason I was so concerned is that I had a partner for this project.  We had to discuss France's military footprint in Africa for twenty minutes in my French Defense Policy class.  One important thing is that this was the first presentation anyone had given in the class.   My partner was also really interested in this topic.  And my professor is a policy advisor for the French Ministry of Defense.  So there was no way I could fake my part of the project.

Starting last weekend, I searched UCSB's online article data base for anything that could help.  I also scoured google extensively.  My portion was to make the argument that France had indeed decreased its military present in Africa.  I always knew that French Africa was a region I wanted to study, but I didn't really know to what extent France was involved in Africa.  I mainly thought it was the northern coast, you know Morocco, Algeria, places like that.  Almost all of my research was about sub-Saharan Africa.  I'm not going to lie, I had to actually look up where some of these countries were.

After telling my partner, Victor that I could meet him Wednesday at 15:00 (right when I had class) only to tell him I got confused and thought that 15=5, I was feeling really unprepared for the presentation.  But I texted him, saying I was incredibly sorry and that we could meet at 17:00 if he could.  Because my class got out at 4:45.  He said that was fine.  We met for half an hour and that was about it.

But that wasn't all for me.  I live probably 30-45 min away from school by foot and today there is a metro strike.  Going to bed last night I figured I should leave my house at 7:15AM just to be on the safe side.  I set my alarm for six, which would have allowed me to shave, wash my hair and get ready and out the door by 7:15.

I got up at 7:23.

I was freaking out, praying to God that the metro line close to my house was still working.  Otherwise it would be a cab ride to ScienesPo.  Which I did NOT want to do.  I guess someone up there likes me, because it was running.  I made it to class with 5 minutes to spare.

We gave our twenty minute presentation in perfect time.  Then we stood and answered any and all questions the students asked.  The first few were from the Prof himself, so I was really nervous.  But somehow I was able to pass myself off like I had some sort of clue about what I was talking about.

And now it's over!  I have one more presentation in that class and one written assignment and that class is done!

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