From Mumbai to New York
Posted December 23, 2011on:
For the past several months, I have been communicating with a young man who stutters from Mumbai, India. His name is Devayan, and we started emailing each other in September.
Devayan connected with me by email in the fall, after realizing that I live in upstate New York, close to a college he was interested in attending. Devayan was hoping to come to the United States to pursue graduate studies in speech language pathology.
He asked my opinion on the graduate essays he was submitting to two colleges. He wanted my honest feedback. He got that, maybe even more than he bargained for!
Devayan didn’t mention in his first draft essay to The College of St Rose that he stuttered. I thought he should, as that would set him apart from other candidates. That and the fact that he is also a HE. Male SLP students are fairly rare.
So I suggested that Devayan rewrite his entire essay! He did, and soon after sending it in, he emailed me to let me know he had passed the first phase of admission. He would now be invited for a face-to-face interview.
We discussed that, and I suggested he ask if he could interview via Skype. It took a while for the college to confirm that a Skype interview would work. So in the interim, Devayan asked if we could chat via Skype. He wanted to pick my brain!
We coordinated the time zone difference and finally “met” over Skype, where we had a great conversation about what to anticipate in the graduate admission interview. Since that time, we have chatted via Skype a few times.
Soon after Devayan had his graduate student interview, he emailed me to let me know he was accepted. Then, in the course of just weeks, he satisfied his student visa interview and purchased his plane tickets to fly from Mumbai, India to Albany, New York, USA.
Devayan is scheduled to arrive here sometime in the first week of January 2012. We plan to meet in person soon after that, which to me is amazing and so meaningful.
It is amazing to think that one person can impact another in such a huge way that one is willing to make such a leap of faith and move half way across the world. It shows the power of connection, and what happens when we share our personal experiences honestly with another.
I don’t think either of us thought in September that we would be really planning to meet in person in January. But we are!
And the flurry of emails continues. I have given Devayan some ideas of what clothing to pack and buy for the cold Northeastern part of the USA, which is quite different from India. And he has asked me about joining Toastmasters here, as he joined a club recently in Mumbai, and wants to stay involved with that once here.
I am excited to introduce him to some of my friends here in New York, and get him involved in our monthly Chat & Chew social gathering of people who stutter.
This will be a huge change for my young friend from India. One that will change his life. And one that will likely change many lives when he eventually returns to India, armed with new tools and resources to help other people who stutter.
People who stutter can help other people who stutter, one person at a time, just by opening up, talking, sharing and connecting.
I look forward to adding more details to this story as it continues to unfold, and adding a picture of the two of us when we finally meet in person.