For those of you who might've feared for the future of Am Yisrael upon hearing that last story, fear not - the rest of the speaking tour was much more inspirational and uplifting. All in all I spoke to students at 17 yeshivot and midrashot/seminaries (with double shifts and make-ups, I think I spoke around 20 times in total), speaking to ~600 incoming college freshmen. Now I don't know how many total post-Israel students go to college every year, but I probably spoke to a good portion of them. The format was normally that I spoke for ~45 minutes and then fielded questions for another 15, if people had. And the reception was always great; people asked a lot of questions - good questions - questions I could tell were the result of serious thinking and understanding on their part. And many of the students came up and spoke to me afterward, either to tell me how inspiring that was or to ask me what the deal was on their campus, or just to introduce themselves.
On a side note, what I still find funny is that I went on a speaking tour. Besides for the element of me speaking to rooms full of seminary girls, the reason it surprises me is because growing up, one of the only things I knew I could never do was be a public speaker. I just couldn't do it, I was too nervous, I had no self-confidence and I couldn't speak well. Fine, so I always knew I would just choose a profession that didn't entail speaking to hundreds of people. And then here I was, speaking to hundreds of people. And it went well - without a hitch. I think the reason was because I mostly just spoke from the heart. Sure I had the outline of a speech in front of me but more often than not, I just spoke freely, loosely following my outline. And the questions were the best, where I really got to speak my mind and bare my heart and tell my stories. There was nothing to be nervous about, I was just telling my story, having a little 'hart to heart'.
Towards the end of the presentation, I would also pass around a pad of paper for people to sign up with their name, email and school if they were interested in finding out more, wanting to connect with other like-minded people on their campus, interested in staying in touch with me, or just wanted to find out where to get $ for Shabbat meals. Here's a table with the numbers of students who signed up from each college.
|U. of Toronto||2|
|Dawson College (Montreal)||1|
|Florida State U.||1|
|Florida University (U of F?)||1|