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Autistic woman with debilitating brain disorder teaches entire school the essentials of public speaking

Autistic Aazeen Nagra confidently delivers a speech

TAICHUNG, TAIWAN—All 190 students enrolled in an international school in Taiwan attended a course taught by 60-year-old Egyptian Aazeen Nagra, who, in spite of her diagnosis with severe autism, taught the student body how to communicate verbally and effectively.

In addition to being autistic, Ms. Nagra suffers from expressive aphasia, a disorder that results from abnormalities in the Broca’s area, a part of the brain that controls speech.

Ms. Nagra flew from Egypt to Taiwan in 2002 to learn Mandarin, shocking the scientific community just four years later when she became fluent in Mandarin. She became an international phenomenon when, in 2015, she delivered a TED talk in Marrakesh, Morocco, in three languages: English, Arabic, and Mandarin.

At the international school, Ms. Nagra urged students to be both “confident and eloquent” in the face of adversity. She proclaimed at the end of her speech: “In this vicious world, in the face of all our travails,  the most lethal weapon we have at our disposal is language. The written word is your sword. The spoken word is your nuclear bomb. So stand up. Be confident and eloquent. Stop being a pussy and grow some cojones and use the voice your mother and God gave you. For God’s sake, what’s wrong with you? Yes. You right there. I’m talking to you, you pansy.”

Upon hearing these words, students gave Ms. Nagra a standing ovation, had a fruitful and lively Q and A session with her, and left at the end of the event in high spirits and with the conviction that they will, one day, become accomplished orators.

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