NSA Conference Memorable Moments
Posted July 9, 2012on:
First open mic session of the conference: a first-time adult stutterer from Mexico gets up and talks about the warmth and emotion he felt so quickly by being with so many people who stutter. His wife got up and shared that she couldn’t have realized how great support feels and burst into tears, with no shame at all.
Workshop: “Inviting Women Who Stutter to the Table” – about 25 women talked about issues unique to women. We discussed claiming our space, strengthening our voice, and how stuttering affects our femininity. Many shared that it was a very powerful workshop, that it’s important for women who stutter to share with women who stutter. Many came up to us suggesting that this be a staple at future conferences.
Presentation: “The Stuttering Monologues” – first time ever trying something new, a story telling performance that included lessons learned, inspiration, humor and dignity. The room was packed, standing room only, until someone finally decided to raise the wall and open another room. People came up to me saying how great it was. It was such a good feeling to see that this worked as well as I had hoped it would. Hope we get to do it again.
First-timer moment: met Kurt from Austria, as he was heading up to his room about 9pm on Tuesday night. I introduced myself and asked him where he was going. He said he didn’t know what to do and how to meet people. We chatted for a while and I suggested he come with me to the hotel lobby and I introduced him around. By Friday’s first-timer luncheon, he looked right at home and shared that he was so glad he had not gone upstairs that night.
First-timer moment – met Ali from Montreal, Canada in person after having only talked over Skype and briefly communicated via Facebook. It seemed like we already knew each other, as we had an instant connection.
Impact moment: seeing Anita from Sweden in person after several years. She told me that she heard from a lot of people that I have made an impact on their lives. That was a shared “cry” moment.
Impact moment: Tracy called me over to show me a picture on her cell phone that she has kept since last year. It is me wearing my tee-shirt that says “I Stutter. Deal With It.” She says she shows people that all the time. Made me feel really good!
Impact moment: had quite a few people come up to me and say “Are you Pam?” I’ve heard your name so much I really wanted to meet you in person.” So humbling to know that a lot of people know me from how “out there” I am.
Impact moment: chatting with the wife of a second-timer who stutters on the hotel veranda Saturday night. We got talking about how much she learned in such a short time. She said, “I never knew how much he really goes through with his speech, because he never told me. Being here has completely opened my eyes. I will be a more patient listener.” She had tears in her eyes.
Workshop: “Using Story Telling to Create a Culture” – participants paired up and shared a personal story with each other. It was so special to see the oldest guy in the room, a stutterer, paired up with the youngest guy in the room, a 14-year-old guy whose brother stutters. These two actively shared stories with each other, and then were seen exchanging contact information with each other.
First-timer moment: meeting Kervin (originally from St. Lucia) in the hallway of the hotel, as he stopped me and asked, “excuse me, what do we do now?” We chatted for a bit and I took him and introduced him to a bunch of people, who I later saw him with throughout the weekend. We touched base every day, and on the last day, he came up to me and told me he knows we are going to be great friends for a long time. We have already emailed each other since being home!
Impact moment: getting the chance to really spend time with Hanan (from Israel) and realize how much we have in common even though we come from different worlds.
First-timer moment: meeting Connie (from Alberta, Canada) who had emailed me a few weeks ago to tell me that she was scared to get up in front of others at an open mic session, but really wanted to do it. We had also talked on the phone before the conference, and talked about what to expect. I was so proud to see her speak with confidence at two open mic sessions.
It’s these little moments that paint the picture of how significant it is to come together in a community of support.