national cyclist Michael Phillips could not help but smile
as he fielded questions from Barrackpore Secondary Comprehensive
school students when he stopped by on Wednesday as part
of the Guardian in Educations Making a Difference
Ahilya Persad put up her hand many times before Michael
Phillips could get to her with the cordless microphone,
busy as he was kept by her peers.
Phillips, a former national cyclist and a painter, was the
feature speaker at her school, Barrackpore Secondary Comprehensive,
on Wednesday, as part of the Guardian in Educations
Making a Difference schools tour.
The project is part of the Guardian in Education essay-writing
Ato Boldon, Olympic multiple-medallist sprinter, Wendy Fitzwilliam,
1998 Miss Universe, George Bovell III, Olympic silver medallist
swimmer, and Brian Lara, WI cricket captain, are the other
speakers on the tour.
A collaboration between the Trinidad and Sunday Guardian,
the Ministry of Education, the celebrities and corporate
sponsors, the tour will take the speakers to 86 different
schools during this academic year.
Students will be asked to write essays on how the speeches
have affected their value systems.
Every year since 2000, the Guardian in Education project
has given out thousands of dollars in scholarships and other
prizes to students with winning essays.
Persad, who was one of the top 24 winners of the essay-writing
contest last year, plans on entering this year with essays
on Phillips, Boldon and Fitzwilliam.
of them are useful, said Persad, 17, a Lower Sixth
is your greatest victory in life so far? she asked
Phillips, in the question time after his speech.
Phillips speech covered a range of topics, including
determination, personal development and building character.
He promised to send tickets to the school for his cycling
series, West Indies versus the World, in April.
The cyclist replied that the series was among his proudest
achievements, especially in the face of the detractors who
told him it couldnt be done.
The series brings cyclists from as far as Australia to T&T
for a ten-day meet against regional riders.
In his talk to the 300-odd students from Barrackpore Secondary
and Secondary Comprehensive Schools, he emphasised that
he strove to balance his many activities, especially since
he was married in Septembera comment that drew applause
from the young audience.
your own circumstances, you are going to have to decide
what you need to be balanced, he said.
He urged the students to hold on to their artistic or sporting
aspirations, even though many people might be discouraging
hear about starving artists. I look like if I am starving?
he asked, jokingly rubbing his abdomen.
of the best things in life is to find something you love
to do and then turn it into a business, he advised,
Javid Boodoo and Mellisa Rampersad-Singh, both 17, of the
host schools Lower Sixth, agreed that the speech was
made you know you have to strive for everything, Rampersad-Singh