Club Officers

Meet our President

Olga Larina

What does Toastmasters mean to you?

Constant improvement. If you take it seriously, the sky will be you limit both in public speaking and in leadership. It’s like a simulation game-it’s a game, but at the same time, it’s for real. But also the opposite is true-it’s for real, but at the same time, it’s a game 😉 

How did you decide to join Toastmasters?

In December 2016 I read an article what to do in 2017 and it was written there that Toastmasters is a club to join if you want to become an excellent public speaker. I checked it out, I liked it, I joined.

What, if anything, makes Center Berlin Toastmasters unique?

Our members: So many different and interesting personalities from so many different countries with so many different experiences and points of view! It never gets boring. 

How did you decide to join the club board?

I think I overused the phrase “yes sure” when I was asked if I want to become a president. But if seriously: new challenge and a good place to try out different leadership skills – those were the main reasons. 

What is the single most important benefit that you experienced by joining Toastmasters?

Oh, always this need to choose 😉 It gives me an opportunity to learn the best practices and styles of so many brilliant people, incorporate them and try them out how they suit me. And this on a regular base! 

If you could rename Toastmasters International, which name would you give to the organization and why?

Need to think. Let me reply to the question a bit later, I usually get more creative after a glass of wine

🍷

Meet our Vice President of Education

Khushi Pasquale

What does Toastmasters mean to you?

Imagine being deserted on a lonely island. Who would I want to keep me company there? 
A Toastmaster.

Imagine the Titanic sinking. Who would I want to jump in a lifeboat with me? A Toastmaster.  

Imagine finally taking that big risk. Who would I want to stand by my side? A Toastmaster.

And who would be there to congratulate me when I succeed, spur me on to improve, reassure me when I fall short? A Toastmaster.

Toastmasters is the environment in which I constantly find new challenges. It’s the place where I safely take risks. Toastmasters are the people I can rely on to encourage and support me. Toastmasters are the means through which I become better and better, with no judgment, no envy, and no holding back. Toastmasters is my way of being useful by pitching in, mentoring others, and showing my appreciation.

How did you decide to join Toastmasters?

I actually started looking at Toastmasters, not for myself but with my Business English students in mind. I’d been teaching them for over 10 years and my students were at a high level of English. What could they do next to stretch and solidify their English skills? I read about Toastmasters in a language teachers association blog and thought, „that’s just the thing!“ But I couldn’t recommend it till I tried it. I attended a few meetings and was absolutely enthralled with the concept. However, none of my students shared my enthusiasm! The result? I retired from teaching, joined Toastmasters, and devoted myself to enjoying and mentoring life-long learning. 

What, if anything, makes Center Berlin Toastmasters unique?

You mean, other than the fact that I initiated its founding? That was such a great project! I had the support of so many Toastmaster acquaintances and it was fun generating creative ideas to grow the club. The thing I value most about Center Berlin Toastmasters is that we’ve maintained that initial fresh, personal, creative, open-hearted, embracive enthusiasm. I find this in the willingness of the Board to take on projects outside our club walls, in the commitment to excellence from new and old members alike, and in the guest comments as they offer us their perspectives. We gather members from over 20 different cultures and countries. This diversity enriches every meeting, every member.

Center Berlin may not be unique in these characteristics, but the combination and continued exploration of these attributes make us very special.

How did you decide to join the club board?

I joined Toastmasters in 2012 and by 2013 I was on the Board. What better way to give back to a club that had helped me grow in such a short period of time? Little did I know that joining the board would bring me even more growth and more confidence. Taking on leadership roles has introduced me to a wide circle of inspiring leaders and increased my confidence in being able to speak in front of groups of „strangers“ in settings outside my club. I attribute much of my success as a speaker to my experience in TM leadership.

What is the single most important benefit that you experienced by joining Toastmasters?

Well frankly, I never thought of myself as a leader before Toastmasters. In fact, I’d failed in corporate leadership early in my professional career. Taking small leadership steps leading to bigger leadership roles allowed me to erase that image of myself as a failure and start holding my head high again. This has been of enormous benefit to me.

If you could rename Toastmasters International, which name would you give to the organization and why?

The name „Toastmasters“ has served this organization for 95 years. For me, it evokes scenes of tributes to individuals as well as invocations that inspire, teach and appeal to our better nature. The tradition of giving toasts at formal gatherings is deeply rooted in cultures around the world. Ralph Smedley believed that any improvement in the art of communication led to improving every other aspect of our lives. He believed the progress of civilization depended on it. He sure has convinced me! I’d stick with a name that has now become synonymous with excellence in both communication and leadership.

Meet our Assistant Vice President of Education

Robert Ludwig

What does Toastmasters mean to you?

Toastmasters a safe place to develop your communication and leadership skills. Every member is interested in personal development and together we can learn more & faster than alone.

How did you decide to join Toastmasters?

I visited two meetings as a guest before I joined. The only reason it took two meetings was that I thought this can’t be real. But it is 😉


What, if anything, makes Center Berlin Toastmasters unique?

It’s young, diverse, dynamic and international members.


How did you decide to join the club board?

Leadership is essential in my career and through a board role at CBT, I can further develop my leadership skills.


What is the single most important benefit that you experienced by joining Toastmasters?

Receiving and giving honest feedback. (Feedback is a gift.)


If you could rename Toastmasters International, which name would you give to the organization and why?

Communication Academy. Toastmasters is not only about public speaking and leadership, but there are also many other skills to learn and grow, however, most of them fall under “communication” in general. And furthermore, the “academy” highlights the importance of our Pathways learning program.

Meet our Vice President of Membership

Yuchen Zhang

How did you decide to join Toastmasters?

I’ve always been in a student version of Toastmasters, so it became clear to me after the second TM meeting that I should join. It was the friendly vibe, welcoming culture and the melting pot atmosphere that really attracted me.

What, if anything, makes Center Berlin Toastmasters unique?

We are extremely international, to a beyond-imagination level. This brings us great culture clash, educational content, multiple learning opportunities. 

We have a pool of amazing talents, which makes each meeting quality assured. I’d even pay to listen to those wonderful speeches.

How did you decide to join the club board?

This is a trap! 

The former VPM Felix didn’t spare any time, since my first day as a member he has been talking me into being his successor. Fact is, I love welcoming new faces and guide them into the Toastmasters world. And I love being a part of the core team to facilitate more joy for the club members. #Whynot 

What is the single most important benefit that you experienced by joining Toastmasters?

Test out the stage with all kinds of experiments, with 30+ pair of eyes on me, every week.

If you could rename Toastmasters International, which name would you give to the organization and why?

Pot International, if I may. It made me think of the Chinese Hotpot (of course, always food), everything cooked together in the pot, eating it requires teamwork efficiency. What else describes our club better than this?

Meet our Vice President of Public Relations

Sabina Bychkar

What does Toastmasters mean to you?

Positive supportive atmosphere, fun, open-minded and different people from all over the world, impressive speeches with food for thought, positive and constructive feedback giving and receiving, room for experiments

How did you decide to join Toastmasters?

I was looking for possibilities to practice my English. After first time at CBT, I was impressed by the high level of speeches and decided to become one day such a professional speaker. That’s why I joined Toastmasters.

What, if anything, makes Center Berlin Toastmasters unique?

People, atmosphere and location. We just rock! 

How did you decide to join the club board?

its not my first time in a board: last TM year I was Treasurer. As Toastmasters club gives room for experiment, I decided this year to do something different from the previous role, go in the field I would never go in my professional career and let my creativity flow: PR is a Perfect Opportunity for it.

What is the single most important benefit that you experienced by joining Toastmasters?

TM taught me to think about speech and prepare it before speaking it out loud. Preparation of the speech is the most important key, which converts  an average speech to a masterpiece

If you could rename Toastmasters International, which name would you give to the organization and why?

Bread Guru worldwide 

Meet our Treasurer

Sam Harker

What does the word Toastmasters mean to you?

Toastmasters means collective self-expression.

How did you decide to join Toastmasters?

I heard about a friend of a friend who really enhanced her career through toastmasters, I was having a career crisis at the time myself!

What, if anything, makes Center Berlin Toastmasters unique?

Warm atmosphere

How did you decide to join the club board?

I looked for a role which matched my skills and availability. 

What is the single most important benefit that you experienced by joining Toastmasters?

Having a better ability to speak helped me find a new job which I really love and I am financially much better off now.

If you could rename Toastmasters International, which name would you give to the organization and why?

The British rapper Akala said, “knowledge of self is all we actually need to survive”. I always loved that idea. I would rename toastmasters as “the knowledge of self academy”.

Meet our Secretary

Sally Pan

What does Toastmasters mean to you?

Toastmasters is an important part of my life, not only for my career life but also for my personal life. It gives me a place to practice my public skill for my study and also motivate to be a good communicator with my family.

How did you decide to join Toastmasters?

 I first joined it serval years ago in my homeland China. After graduation from university, I had a lot of leisure time and had no ideas about what to do. Then I met one of my classmates from middle school, who introduced Toastmaster to me, I tried one time and the experience was super positive. After moving to Berlin, I continued my journey in CBT.

What, if anything, makes Center Berlin Toastmasters unique?

I would say “International”.  CBT’s members are from different countries, we share different culture and interesting stories. It likes an international family.

How did you decide to join the club board?

 To push me to engage the club more and give back. Sometimes I am lazy to attend the meeting, but as a board member, I feel I have to attend the meeting every time. Besides, everyone in the club is so nice to give me a lot of help, I want to try my best to give something back and make our clubs more successful.

What is the single most important benefit that you experienced by joining Toastmasters?

Confidence. Toastmasters are positive and encouraging. I received a lot of helpful suggestions and positive feedback from fellow toastmasters, which makes me become more confident to stand on the stage and make myself heard.

If you could rename Toastmasters International, which name would you give to the organization and why?

Challengers. Because every member is going out of the comfort zone and take the challenge to be better. And our organization give a safe and supportive atmosphere to help the challengers to achieve our goals. 

Meet our Sergeant at Arms

Simon Heuschkel

What does Toastmasters mean to you?

TM means for me to become a better version of myself. To learn how to give and receive feedback, and support one another to grow personally and as a club. 

How did you decide to join Toastmasters?

The main reason why I joined TM, was that I wanted to perfect my presentation skills, to a level where I get the message across most effectively. I was never really afraid of being in front of people but struggled to be precise in what I was talking about. 

What, if anything, makes Center Berlin Toastmasters unique?

The mix of people (also young people), the different level of skills,  the humor, and openness, makes CBT unique for me.

How did you decide to join the club board?

A former board member approached me, asking if I would be interested. I saw the chance to have more stage time and to be in a supporting role for the club. I immediately agreed:)

What is the single most important benefit that you experienced by joining Toastmasters?

The biggest benefit for me is, that we learn how to craft speeches that inspire others – and we do this through expertise and feedback!

If you could rename Toastmasters International, which name would you give to the organization and why?

Boundary – This name shows that we always push our comfort zone (boundaries) to improve ourselves.

Meet our Immediate Past President

Kostas Christidis

What does Toastmasters mean to you?

Toastmasters is a safe place to grow in unpredictable ways. It is more than a club, it is a family of ambitious and caring people.


How did you decide to join Toastmasters?

It was a fight against stage fright. Having a purely technical background, I wanted to improve my communication skills. I gathered all my courage and I joined the first meeting in July 2017.

What, if anything, makes Center Berlin Toastmasters unique?

It is always the people. The people bring their energy with them, and their energy is high, positive and highly contagious! CBT is what it is because of its members.

How did you decide to join the club board?

For my first board year, a former board member asked me to do it. I said I cannot possibly do a good job. She told me I would do fine. And it seems that I did fine. Now as an immediate past president, I am happy to provide advice and help where needed.

What is the single most important benefit that you experienced by joining Toastmasters?

Courage to make mistakes. I am getting braver to step up and do things, sometimes the wrong way. This quality is what makes life completely different. “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. ” in the words of Hellen Keller.

If you could rename Toastmasters International, which name would you give to the organization and why?

Speak Up! The world needs a lot more opinions. The world needs people that are currently sitting silent, to grab a microphone and claim their space on stage. At work, in their families, and within their communities. And this is what Toastmasters is doing.