The Brunei Gavel Club – Our History

Greetings, dear reader.

Farhan Jafar Ali here, President of Brunei Gavel Club. Welcome to the story of Gavel.

Gavel Clubs are junior Toastmasters clubs made for schools, the youth and the general community who wishes to learn Toastmasters on a smaller scale. In Brunei, we have 3 such Gavel Clubs. Namely, Maktab Sains Gavel Club, Chung Hwa Middle School Gavel Club and the newly established Brunei Gavel Club. The first two are only made for students of that school, while Brunei Gavel Club is opened to the public. Recommended for an age group of under 18 years old.

The first Gavel Club (started by Ms Yani Hepnie and Mr Wayne Stagg) was Maktab Sains Gavel Club which started it’s journey back in 2012. This was a whole new idea brought into a school. There are public speaking curricular  clubs around Brunei’s schools, but this was the first to follow the syllabus of Toastmasters. It was a rough journey to instill the new idea of evaluations, impromptu speaking and delivering speeches to the students. The club constantly received help from Toastmasters members. Among the achievements include hosting a public speaking workshop for Year 9s made up of 150 students. All done by the young gaveliers themselves(Gavel members are called gaveliers.)

Another milestone of this club is to officially register under Toastmasters International just this year(2016). To be legitimately recognized means to obtain the manuals, magazines, badges and a real life gavel.

Chung Hwa Middle School Gavel Club was established in 2015 by Ms Ong Yin. This club was officially registered during it’s birth. CHMS Gavel Club has grown to be an enthusiastic club eager to host their meetings and welcome any Toastmasters help whenever they can.

Finally, the Brunei Gavel Club. With the ever helpful hands of Shawn Narcis, Reuben Chin, Yani Hepnie, UBD Toastmasters, Brunei Speaker’s Club and many more among others, the Brunei Gavel Club was born. The Brunei Gavel Club started from an empty canvas. I, myself, recruited the executive committee from my circle of friends. We sat down from time to time, discussing how best to shape this club. In the end, this club had the first meeting on 17th April 2016 with a tremendous amount of attendees.

An advantage of Brunei Gavel Club compared to the school gavel clubs is that you can be a
member for a long term. Unlike schools where you are a member of a club shorter than a
year’s length. As well as receiving mentors from the sister clubs of Toastmasters in Brunei to help guide you in your journey. Meetings are consistently held on mornings of every odd
numbered Sundays in a month. Currently, the meetings are held at the basement classroom 4 of Chancellor Hall, Universiti Brunei Darussalam.

As of now, BGC has a membership of 14 (August 2016). Let’s hope this number increases after exams are over and let students and parents alike see the value of public speaking and developing leadership skills. BGC aims to have meetings filled with joy, learning and getting closer to one another. In the future, BGC wishes to expose itself more by conducting meetings and workshops in different schools. There are still so many out there who have never heard even the slightest the idea of public speaking. Especially so for those who have hidden, dormant potentials and talents but no  platform to unlock it.

Alas, over the past five years, there has at least been around 200 youths from different clubs who has ever become a gavelier or exposed to it. Many of whom express great sadness when having to conclude their journey (either graduating school, school year is over etc.) because they themselves have enjoyed their time sharing stories where no one else would be willing to listen. Gavel Club gives you the stage to let your voice be heard.

A number of prominent gaveliers who have shined in their journey include speaking for
TEDx, PechaKuchaNight, went on to study abroad, acing scholarship interviews, moving on to higher education, winning speech contests, being brought to youth leadership trips and many more. Imagine, more and more students see the beauty of becoming a better communicator and leader in life. This can bring you to so many places and reach greater heights. Many opportunities out there seek more on your personality and traits rather than education. That does not mean to say education is not important. But by adding
public speaking into your skill set, you can have your voice be heard and listened to. Gavel can do just that.

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