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A beautiful testimonial by PechaKucha presenter Sonia Kar 

So it began! The moment had come for me to take the stage. Rodrigo, one of the enthusiastic hosts of the evening, had started giving a grand introduction about what I was going to speak about in the next 6 minutes and 40 seconds on PechaKucha Maastricht Vol 31, being held at the prestigious Sint Janskerk. What would I say? Would I be able to keep pace with the 20 seconds timer on each slide or would I just make a mess of it? Would I be able to convey my story effectively?

Actually all these questions crossed my mind some two months ago when I heard about PechaKucha 20X20 presentation format using picture slides. Bit intimidating that one has to convey adequately in 20 slides with a 20 sec/slide speed, but the concept was so terrific that I had to give it a try. My application as a guest speaker took some screening considering PechaKucha was celebrating the 40th anniversary of Maastricht University. However I handled the screening questions with the same passion as I would be doing while speaking (I in fact felt I was already on stage). To my joy, I was informed that the very talented PechaKucha team had selected me.



Next came the daunting task of preparing the slides – setting my story right, hunting for the appropriate pictures for the slides. That actually was not as difficult as I thought it would be. Though it called for some iterations, lots of “gentle” reminders and patience from PechaKucha team members especially Zhen (thank you for bearing with all the stupid questions which came your way). However, the issues were faced when I thought of practising. Just two days left for the event, I was making a mess. I remember the first time I practised – the entire 20 slides (each with 20 seconds) were over and I had not finished half of my story! I was always gifted with this art of talking a lot and not being precise. That would definitely be put to the test now. So then came the phase of cutting it short and making it just fit within 20 seconds. The next time I practised, I finished the story when I was in slide 10! The pressure of finishing the story was high so I missed mentioning half of the points which I had to. With some iterations I was ultimately there.

On the D-day, when we reached Sint Janskerk - it was a packed house. The stage was set and rows of chairs were placed perfectly surrounding the stage. There were at least 300 people. I was trying to find familiar faces (as that would boost my confidence– human psychology as talking to known people is less of a stress than addressing unknown people) but there were hardly any. Then came the reassuring words from my husband – “You have spoken at a gathering of 100 people before. Speaking to 100 people and 300 people will feel the same”. Feeling a bit relaxed by his remark, I went and chose a comfortable spot.


What I loved the most was the concept of starting with the programme at 20:20. All the speakers were outstanding, the topics and their stories were thought-provoking. There were a lot of ideas and energies which were brought in. The audience (I being a part of it too) was completely enlightened and very enthusiastic. The more I watched the speakers, the more tensed I became. It was already intimidating to match the standards set by the speakers. But I was banking on the audience, if I falter or forget something they will clap and cheer me for that too :)

Then came my turn. Rodrigo announced my name and yes, I was on stage. What was playing in my mind in the first two seconds – “Wow, that’s a lot of people looking at me, how do I engage with them? Oops, watch your posture, where are your hands, oh no, I have a microphone, what were the first lines?  Ah forget it, just be yourself”.  (Yeah, mind is faster than light, all this I thought in two seconds)

And that’s what happened for the next 6 minutes 40 seconds – I was myself. I spoke about how we had come up with HomeHandi, an online platform which connects passionate cooks to food lovers like us and provides healthy home cooked food options. The most interesting part of the talk was when I started speaking about our learnings. I could feel an immediate connection with the audience. The one on how we could empower most of the cooks who were women homemakers by boosting their self-confidence and making them financially independent was appreciated by everyone. By the time I spoke about how we realised that people from various cultures unite or bond together over food, I was completely at ease. “Food is a universal language and we see it as an enabler to connect people from various countries i.e. expats, students and locals together. That is exactly what we saw happening in our flagship event – International Food Festival held in Maastricht. Why not make Maastricht city as one of the pioneers in forming a culturally inclusive community?” While saying all this,  it really did not hit me that I was at this grand location or event. I felt as if it was a normal chit-chat which I was having with a group of friends of mine (PechaKucha actually signifies chit-chat).  I spoke without any inhibitions and my passion controlled my speech. I enjoyed thoroughly those 6 minutes and 40 seconds which came my way.

At the end of the event I was approached by many familiar faces – familiar as I had seen them from the podium so now they were no more unfamiliar to me. I felt that PechaKucha gave me that platform to bring out the confidence in me, helped me to approach and interact with so many people, gave me the opportunity to enlighten myself. The informal way of story-telling with pictures is something very unique and very heart warming. Thank you PechaKucha for my 6 minutes and 40 seconds :)

 

By Sonia Kar, HomeHandi


"The reason I went back to Kabul … is I felt something was changing, something was very different, and I wanted to see it with my own eyes."

In Being Young in Kabul from PechaKucha Night Maastricht Vol. 30Samina Ansari tells us that in March 2015, a woman was stoned and burned to death in the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan. That's when Ansari decided to return to her birth country after 20 years of absence. One year later, she wants to share her experiences and observations: Kabul is more than what you see in the news.

 

"The world is abundant. If you’re willing to take leftovers, you can get nearly everything. Just ask for it."

In Monkeys Go Green from PechaKucha Night Maastricht Vol. 30Roos Derks shares on her urban gardening projects. Starting off on a polluted and neglected old rubber factory terrain, Derks brings us to the political and cultural center of the Mandril in Maastricht. Guided by insights from Social Permaculture, she shows why these type of projects are surprisingly doable, important, and a lot of fun.

"Too many times, we make judgements on people and situations without knowing anything about them... I decided to do a photography project, which is focusing on people, not the conflict, not the violence."

In The Craftsmanship of the Kufiya from PechaKucha Night Maastricht  Vol. 29, photographer Brian Megens tells the story about his photography project ‘The Other Side of Palestine’. In this project he focuses on life and the people of the West Bank. He made several stories throughout the country. During his stay in Palestine, Brian got intrigued with the kufiya, known in the West as the ‘Arafat scarf’. In his presentation, ‘The Craftsmanship of the Kufiya’ Brian will tell us more about this traditional Arabic product that won his admiration.

“Stereotypes harm dignity, but the truth of the matter is that stereotypes sell”

What is your image of Africa? A poor, conflict-ridden, hot continent with beautiful sunsets and wild animals, or a hub for innovations and the second fastest growing economy?

By day Faten Aggad works as Africa programme manager at the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM). By night she studies journalism and is a travel writer. In Every 60 seconds in Africa… from PechaKucha Night Maastricht Volume 29, she will challenge you to look at Western media headlines through a different lens.


“This picture has been taken 10 of 15 minutes after a vacuum bomb has been executed in the capital. This man is walking with his dog near the bomb and he says ‘I will live my life’.”

People can show extreme resilience under extraordinary situations. In A light in the Dark from PechaKucha Night Maastricht’s event at MSM, Speaker Mohammed Mahdi shows Yemeni people in their daily lives. He is impressed to see how they manage to progress under extreme situations which could be categorized as extremely hard life.


“We live in a global village but it turns out that all houses in the global village look the same, and I was kind of bothered with that.”

In An Affordable Alternative to Retail Chain Art from PechaKucha Night Maastricht’27th volume, presenter Tom Luyten discusses one of his biggest issues when it comes to home decoration. Bothered by the fact that we live in a world full of living rooms with the same picture hanging above the couch, he created an alternative. Watch as Tom tells us how to create art that is both unique and affordable, without settling for lesser quality and still provide the artist with a sufficient compensation.


“Smell gives us a sense of place. Our nose is our built in navigator and every city is filled with smell scapes.”

In The Fragrant City from PechaKucha Night Maastrict Volume 29, Speaker Tanja Schell shows how powerful one of our most ignored senses is. We live in a world of scents. And we are influenced by them 24/7. All those scents influence our mood and our wellbeing, all of them. Even those we are not aware of. Scent is a hidden but powerful dimension which adds a strong sense of place to the urban space, it makes cities more attractive and more safe. After ages of reducing and controlling odour emissions in the city, time has come to develop a positive policy to use this invisible power.

“At the end, I want to stress… You, you can save someone’s life. You can save someone loved’s life ”

In Resuscitation A Basic Skill For All from PechaKucha Night Maastricht’s 27th Volume Jules Olsthoorn Discusses Keep the Heartbeat Going, an organization dedicated to educating the public about CPR. The first six minutes after a heart attack is a crucial time, and it is imperative that one knows how to resuscitate a loved one should they ever be put in such a situation. A medical student in Maastricht, Jules spends most of his time at Taskforce QRS Maastricht, an organisation that promotes and facilitates resuscitation education in the Netherlands.

 

No less than seven students, and for the first time, one member of MSM’s mentor program took the stage on Thursday 28 January for the annual New Year PechaKucha event, organized in collaboration with PechaKucha Maastricht.

 

For the third year, MBA students at MSM are invited to present their dreams, insights and visions to staff, friends, mentors, and MSM’s local business partners and stakeholders, by using the powerful PechaKucha presentation format.

The PechaKucha concept is simple yet effective. Devised by Klein Dytham Architecture in Tokyo in 2003 as a fast-paced presentation format to pitch new ideas, each speaker presents 20 slides, each for 20 seconds. PechaKucha events have grown into valued platforms for inspiration, creativity and networking and are now taking place in close to 900 cities across the world. It has existed in Maastricht since 2009.

Social Media Maastricht School of Management

After receiving a special introduction and coaching session by PechaKucha Maastricht co-organiser and MSM affiliate communications officer Sueli Brodin, seven MBA students from countries as varied as India, Lebanon, Yemen, Brazil, Zimbabwe and Trinidad and Tobago came forward and volunteered to take up the challenge. Upon hearing about the event, MBA program mentor Jan-Martin Ahrendt, from Maastricht’s expat center, enthusiastically decided to join them. They said they were motivated by the opportunity to share an inspiring story not only with the public at MSM but also later online with the rest of the world, through the PechaKucha Maastricht website.

 

The presenters were free to choose their own topics and own slides. Many of them fully embraced the chance to demonstrate their creativity. Mohammed Mahdi from Yemen said: “I wanted to talk about the ability of people to be resilient under extreme conditions, by taking the example of my own country. But I didn’t have enough pictures to illustrate my topic. So I asked my friends back home for help and they went on the streets to take photographs for me. One of them even designed the slides for me. I am very grateful for their help and want to credit them all.”

The presentations were as informative and as varied in topic and in style: MBA32 students Gireesh  Shrivastava spoke about the extraordinary variety of religions and outings that make up the Indian culture, Antoine Jeha highlighted the value of emotional intelligence as a factor of synergy in the workplace, Anwer Azzan looked at the future of university education, Julia Taddei shared the compelling and dramatic story of the Old Chico river in her home region of Brazil, Beverly Best described a little known yet impressively successful model of regional integration within  the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). And last but not least, Ivy Musora inspired the audience with an insightful presentation on the priceless life lessons that can be learned from dogs.

The topic chosen by MBA mentor Jan-Martin Ahrendt could not have been more suitable topic for the international MSM audience: he spoke about the relentless efforts of the Maastricht expat center to establish a regional network of institutions and service providers with the goal to create an attractive climate for internationals in the Maastricht Region. Mr. Ahrendt said he enjoyed this first PechaKucha experience. “Due to the 20×20 time frame I was very nervous before the presentation, but at the same time I was very much looking forward to it. It is a great way to present, to send a message and to draw people’s attention to it. Despite the variety of the topics presented, I did not lose my attention for a minute. The response of the students to my presentation afterwards was very enthusiastic,” he said.

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