Telling the story of Su Beng

Making public speeches or presentations to audiences always makes me a bit nervous. it's something that I know I definitely need to work on and get comfortable with. So I try to welcome opportunities to speak publicly. These days I see each one as another chance to get some more practice.

The last time I spoke formally about Su Beng was as a speaker at the 2013 ITASA Conference in February. I prepped for that for a lot, rewriting and reworking my speech a few times and rehearshing it to the point that I could speak naturally, mostly from my memory. But even then, I brought my iPad with me so that I could refer to my notes in case I forgot what to say next.

I wasn't sure what to expect or how to prepare for the TAA-NY Dinner Discussion on Monday. I knew that it was going to be a small group and therefore a more casual setting. So I figured I would just have to just wing it.

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It was a small group of about eight people. As I started talking about Su Beng, I felt as if I was in the role of a story teller. And essentially, as his biographer that's what I am. Su Beng's life has been action-packed, complex, and full of contradiction, drama and intrigue. As I talked, the various themes in his life that I've observed replayed in my mind and I recounted stories demonstrating Su Beng's temerity, strong personal conviction, adventurous spirit and determination to make a lasting impact on the social conscience of the people of Taiwan. I think that my audience was pretty captivated. 

Through the reactions of my audience that night, I "heard" Su Beng's story again for the first time and that was priceless. I really enjoyed it. Telling a story firsthand is so different from writing. The process of writing is such a solitary thing and actually, reading is too. 

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I brought a copy of the book 史明口述史, to give away. The title can be translated as THE ORAL HISTORY OF SU BENG. It is a biography of Su Beng written by three Taiwan National University students that was released in February of this year.