Being 14 years old is tough. Period. It has often been said that 8th grade is the hardest year for teens due to surging hormones, difficult relational dynamics in school, the search for identity and the longing to belong. This year our family moved from CA to TX, and Jordan endured the challenge of moving in the middle of 8th grade. Our move was harder than we anticipated and it was especially trying for Jordan in many ways. When our family heard about Dallas Fort Worth Speech and Debate, a Christian organization for young people, we knew this could be a great opportunity for Jordan, who excelled in his 7th grade speech class.
The vision of DFW Speech and Debate is to help students develop solid critical thinking and communication skills, and to understand and articulate what they believe and why. Jordan has been attending their classes for the past five months on Friday evenings, where he developed two speeches and learned impromptu speaking. He wrote a persuasive speech on the importance of volunteering, which emphasized how his experiences volunteering in his community and overseas impacted his life. His speech examined the influence of inspirational volunteers on the world such as Mother Teresa, St. Patrick, David Platt and Katie Davis. This past weekend Jordan participated in a 12 hour speech competition, where he advanced to the semi-finals and finals with his moving and emotional speech. He blew us away as he soared to 3rd place (in a speech category of twenty-one students) as a first year student. Here is the opening to his speech...
"I got my first passport when I was seven years old as I was preparing to travel to El Salvador to serve orphans. I had no idea that my life would be so profoundly impacted by volunteering in a third world country when that passport photo was taken. As I boarded the plane to El Salvador, I thought I was going to help kids who were less fortunate than me, but what I didn't realize was that these incredible kids would change my life for the better. The boys and girls that I met in the orphanage taught me the secret of true joy and contentment. Although they had no families, luxuries, toys or electronics, they were happier than any of the kids I knew in the U.S. I returned home with a new perspective and a greater appreciation for my family, the privileges I had as a child growing up in a first world country, and the amazing ways in which volunteering had changed me forever."
Jordan was required to memorize his eight minute speech, which meant hours of time in addition to his regular homework load. He was judged on the skills that he gained in his classes; expression, delivery, emotion, the use of pertinent sources, quotes, supporting evidence, etc. It was a privilege for me, Mike and my mom to volunteer as judges for other categories throughout the day. We thoroughly enjoyed hearing presentations from other students. However, as I sat in the back of the room and listened to my son presenting, I was moved to tears. It was one of those mom moments that I will never forget. Words can not describe how my heart was warmed as I heard Jordan communicate his heart for missions and the undeniable ways in which his life has been molded through serving.
Our entire family is incredibly proud of Jordan and the godly, young man he is becoming. He is not an athlete so this event was like a "championship game" for our gifted, articulate and deep thinking son. We are so thrilled to be sending him on his fifth trip to El Salvador next month and look forward to watching God move in his life.
If you'd like a copy of Jordan's entire speech, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.