“Because I Knew You, I Have Changed for the Better” (Post-Conference Reflection)

July 19, 2011  |  Posted in: Members' Blog - Stuttering Perspectives   |  By:   |   1 Comment

NSA Queens Chapter at NSA Conference 2011

As persons who stutter, our day to day life can often be a struggle. Self-acceptance can be hard to find if you feel alone. From July 6th to July 10th, I attended my 2nd NSA conference in Fort Worth, Texas and I was NOT alone. Over 800 people who stutter or have an interest in stuttering came together for one purpose-to have their voice heard. It was a week filled with laughing, crying and beautiful stuttering. It was truly inspiring how friendships blossomed between people of all ages due to one unique common characteristic: Stuttering. For 4 days we did not have to worry about pausing for too long, controlling blocks or our listener’s perceptions of stuttering. We took comfort in relating to each other’s struggles and highs and lows in everyday life. There was no one to say “Why are you making a funny face?” or “Hello? I think we have a bad connection.” In fact, it was quite the opposite. Everyone was extremely patient and really took time to listen to what their peers had to say. Nicole P., a first timer and person who stutters stated, “The conference opened me up to a world filled of self-acceptance and love. Seeing confident, smart, motivated people who stutter has made me realize more than ever that I am not alone.”

Every year there are a variety of insightful, helpful, informative and encouraging workshops offered at the conference. This year was no different! Some of the workshops I attended really gave me insight into other people’s perceptions of stuttering (“Falling in Love with a Person who Stutters”) while still being able to relate to other people’s experiences at the “back by popular demand” open mic session. I was even introduced to the idea of “disclosing” stuttering which goes beyond advertising at “Guys from Harvard don’t Stutter and other myths.” Disclosing refers to the idea that you not only say, “Hi, I’m a person who stutters” but you also explain why stuttering does not prevent you from performing to the best of your ability. Disclosing can be a very powerful tool and I encourage you to use it in challenging situations.

The atmosphere at the conference was nothing short of accepting and welcoming. First timer Adam R. said, “I’m so happy I was able to attend the 2011 NSA conference in Ft. Worth, Texas. It was truly an eye opening experience for me. It felt so good to be able to speak comfortably and in front of groups of people. After 24 years I can honestly say I am proud of who I am and I can’t wait to attend next year’s conference.” It was truly remarkable to see so many first timers inspired by the NSA. Dustin L. felt that because the conference attendees were so inspiring and motivating, he would be willing to “drop everything and attend next year’s conference.”

While the conference created new memories and friendships for me, the highlight of my weekend was to listen to our keynote speaker, Mr. David Seidler, the screenwriter of the Oscar award winning movie “The King’s Speech” discuss his experiences as a person who stutters. It was a once in a life time opportunity and I am truly blessed to have been a part of it. Thank YOU Mr. Seidler for giving us a voice!

Once again, I have been blown away by the compassion, support and understanding of the stuttering community. Marc W. feels that “the conference was a life changing experience. There were so many motivating, compassionate, successful, unbelievable members of the stuttering community.” Personally, I feel that many of us went to the conference as individuals but we left as a family.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind and encourage you that it is never too late to attend a meeting, attend a conference or “come out of the closet” about your stuttering. Today can be the beginning of the rest of your life, you just have to remember that you are NOT alone. I would like to leave you with these words- a great perspective on what the conference meant to me and what it will hopefully mean to you…

“I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn and we are led to those who help us most to grow if we let them and we help them in return. Well I don’t know if I believe that’s true but I know I’m who I am today because I knew you…Like a comet pulled from orbit as it passes a sun, like a stream that meets a boulder halfway through the wood. Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better? But because I knew you I have been changed for good.”

Don’t be afraid to be a fruit loop in a world of cheerios. Stay strong and stutter beautifully!

– Nina Z.

Disclaimer: Please note that the information and opinions expressed in the articles contained in the Blog section of the NSA Queens Chapter website do not necessarily concur with the views or beliefs of the National Stuttering Association (NSA) or the Queens Chapter of the NSA. They are the opinion of each individual contributing author who attends the Queens chapter.

1 Comment for this entry

  • Isaura Isabel

    April 22nd, 2012 on 2:07 am

    Hi, I will like more information about meetings

    thanks

    Very nice









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