Empowered By Diversity
I just came back from the National Stuttering Association annual conference held in Ft Worth, Texas, USA. It was so liberating and empowering to be in an environment where I was not the minority. Listening to other people stutter, who sound like me, offers such comfort and joy to know that we are not alone. It is support beyond words!
I started attending these conferences in 2006, making it a priority to attend every year, even when it was a financial hardship. This year, I had employment struggles, and worried that I would be unable to attend.
A friend asked if Iwas going a few months ago, and I told him I may have to skip this one. He told me I HAD to be there, that my presence is needed and felt in the stuttering community. He offered to pay my airfare. At first, I declined. He persisted, and finally I accepted.He sent me a check a week later. No questions asked.
Sometimes people are in your life for a reason. He was in a position to help me, and knows that I will pay it forward someday, to another person in need.
I am so happy I attended. I met so many people, women. men and children who stuttered, who experienced the sense of community, even in our diversity, for the first time. Bonds were formed instantly, because we know that words sometimes fail us, but we are not failures.Knowing that in a world that takes communication for granted is so important.
I had the chance to do a workshop with children who stutter, ages 7-12, both girls and boys. It felt good for me to be a woman who stutters and speak freely, and be a role model for children, and their parents. My presence, and all women who stutter, bring hope to those who still struggle with shame and fear.
I met people from all walks of life, backgrounds, and cultures. People from several continents attended this conference. Our world is so small, we can reach out and touch each other. For that, I feel blessed. And I am blessed to be able to speak freely, no matter how it sounds or how long it takes.