by Janet Fuchek

For an avid traveler like me, the winds of change with the onset of the pandemic turned me into an armchair traveler instead.

“How is Janet managing the pandemic as I know she likes to travel the world?”

“She found a way,” was the response accompanied by a smile.

My new approach? Virtual travel with Toastmasters.

       Janet Fuchek

Over the past two years since the pandemic began, I visited clubs in countries such as Jordan, Egypt, Uganda, Japan, and Israel, simply with the touch of a button. All aboard Zoom Airways, Jetset Janet, as my friends call me!

During my virtual travels, I’ve been able to transform my leadership skills — literally, around the world. I delivered a few keynote speeches, judged contests, took on roles at meetings, and joined clubs worldwide, serving as a club officer. I earned my Distinguished Toastmasters (DTM) award after I coached a club in my hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, on the virtual platform.

The winds of change also allowed me to embrace two High-Performance Leadership Projects in Pathways that could be carried out virtually.

My committee and I held three Its a Small World! traditional Toastmasters meetings, inviting participants from around the world. Our purpose was to unite Toastmasters globally, to provide social interaction, and to share and learn best practices. We also held a special meeting, showcasing my home district —  District 106 that spans parts of Minnesota and Northwestern Ontario. Last April, we welcomed Past Toastmasters International President, Richard E. Peck, as our special guest at an international Toastmasters meeting.

Our second project centered on the formation of a virtual Toastmasters traveling group called Jetmasters. Like-minded travelers attended virtual club meetings collectively around the world, learning and sharing ideas, as well as taking on meeting roles. We also gained a greater awareness of different cultures and countries.

In the process, I was able to reconnect with my Toastmasters friend, DTM Betty Liedtke, who moved from Minnesota to Georgia. She joined me in virtual travel along with DTM Joyce Crawford, also from the Greene County Toastmasters Club in Greensboro, GA. We welcomed other virtual travelers into the Jetset group to accompany us to exotic destinations.

With the winds of change came the chance to transform our leadership skills and to discover its a small world, after all!

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