Public speaking: Mensa and teaching Japanese – Highlights of 2015 part 3

Japanese lessons

This year, I started teaching Japanese to people who were interested in learning about Japanese language and culture. It was exciting and interesting to do this. I could put a lot of creativity into my lessons. Lesson structures, new ideas, thinking of ways to explain things, making drawings and illustrations. And most of all: creating a fun and educational experience for the people attending my classes. Certainly one of the highlights of my year.

Eating sushi with my students of my Japanese class (part of class)
Eating sushi with students of my Japanese class (part of class)

Another highlight of my year flowed from this experience.

Being a Public Speaker at the Mensa October Weekend

One of my student was somebody of the Mensa branch of the Netherlands (for privacy reasons, I will not mention his or  her name). Mensa is a High IQ Society. We clicked and he or she always had interesting stories to tell. He or she told me there would be a Mensa event in October of this past year. That was the October Weekend of 2015. He or she asked me to give a lecture of 1.5 h over there. I was excited. I had given presentations and taught before to smaller groups of people (subjects: law or Japanese) , but teaching a larger  full of people that was new. And I heard that Mensans could be quite a critical audience.  I always think: people are people, so I will certainly take into account my unique audience, but I am sure they will like what I have to say if I put passion into my lecture. And I have been told that Mensans pick up new information very quickly, so that I could take on a quick pace. I like that. So I did my best to teach them about as much interesting cultural differences between Japan and the Netherlands as I could fit in a 1.5 h time frame. Culture, religion, language and other subjects came up in my lecture.  And of course, one of the first things I mentioned was the difference between the trains of Japan and the Netherlands ^_^.

photos by BradBeattie and by Ad Meskens
Comparing a shikansen to a Dutch train isn’t really a fair comparison, haha. Photos by BradBeattie and by Ad Meskens


I got a lot of interesting questions from the very diverse looking people in the audience. Some of them closed their eyes to be able to take in every word (or they were asleep, that is also a possibility ;), I hope not).Some of them came up to me after the lecture with questions. And some of them said I should join Mensa, because, like a lot of them, I have a lot of different interests, could quickly think on my feet (when I was asked a question). And because of things like my degrees and skipping a grade.

Mensa lecture
Mensa lecture

I think they are a friendly bunch. I don’t really have plans to join yet, because I am a very busy person with work, study, music (singer songwriter, band, orchestra, etc.) hobbies and my dear friends, and I don’t know how to fit it all in my schedule. And I have friends and acquaintances allready who are interesting to me and they are a very diverse group in age, interests, gender, and background. However, I do understand the desire to join a high IQ society like Mensa. A lot of gifted people are misunderstood. When they come up with revolutionary ideas, their ideas are often shot down, because people think they are crazy for thinking so far out of the box. I sometimes experience this as well and it’s painful. Having a vision and not being able to work it out, because other people just don’t “see” it. Sometimes, you’ll even get a hostile response. All of this is, besides being painful, also incredibly educational to me. I learned that to many people, style is just as important as substance.

The importance of substance and style

So, if you want to tell people something important or interesting, it is important to say it in a way that shows regard for their preferences. That shows respect to them. I have to learn to get to know them! If I fail to explain something to someone, it is partly my fault and luckily I am able to correct the way I deliver the message.

There are people who are proud of being a member of Mensa, to be intelligent and they will  still be a joy to be around. Good for them. They are great.  Yet, there are probably individuals who think they are better and will treat others badly because they are Mensa members.  Feeling superior and narcissistic often stems from being insecure at the core of your being and those are certainly no intelligent, useful traits. Yes, be proud of yourself :)! No, don’t indulge in your pride and pain.

Another reason I think Mensa is a useful society for some people is that  lot of people of the gifted persuasion have an intensity in them that puts other people off. Or they will be overwhelmed by things that other people don’t even pay attention to (for some information on this, please take a look at Dabrowski’s overexcitabilities). They are more prone to get depressed (existential crisis). So, I think there is a need for organisations like Mensa, even though most people who have IQ score results in the top 2 % don’t join Mensa I read somewhere.

Public speaking

Because of the teaching and the lecture, I found out that I really like public speaking. It was great to speak at a convention where a very talented journalist like Joris Luyendijk was also one of the speakers. Good atmosphere. I love public speaking. I like to deliver a message and I like the challenge of keeping my audience interested. Some of my idols are Tony Robins and Jim Rohn. They are an inspiration to me and their ideas help me grow as a human being. I would like to hold some more lectures in 2016. Hopefully I’ll find opportunity to do this. I like having the possibility to add value to people’s lives by public speaking. Just like I want to write useful blogs in the New Year (rather than an account from my year, like this series of blog posts) that are interesting and entertaining for people to read.

Do you want to read about more of my highlights of the year 2015? I have written blogs about (click to go there):
Sweet Lake Rock (my band)
Going to Seoul, South Korea (Gangnam Style)

Do you want to learn more about Mensa? Please click here.

And for more information about the Dutch branch of Mensa, please click here.