Good evening everyone,
Have you ever had something really big happen in your life, so life-altering that you remember where and when it exactly happened? If you have ever experienced a spontaneous burst of emotion so powerful that time just stopped and stood still for a moment, this blog will remind you of how special emotions can be.
One of the many passions I have involving the NSA is doing public speaking to undergraduate and graduate classes about stuttering. It may surprise some people (or not), but many people who stutter are deathly afraid of public speaking, and fear it more than actually dying. It is with such inspiration and admiration that I look to my teammates who not only host seminars at the NSA conference, but launch their own revolutions whenever they say what is on their mind and help the future speech language pathologists understand what stuttering is all about it. This past week, I had the pleasure of speaking at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J. For those who are unfamiliar with the area, South Orange is west of New York City, located right off I-280 and within striking distance of Newark. The school is well known for their basketball team...but how I found myself there was because I had contacted the school to express a desire to speak to classes in the department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. It was how I came to meet Dr. Dayalu and his class of students. Returning to New Jersey was for me symbolic of what I consider the climax of my journey. You see, all my teammates have a favorite conference:maybe it's the location, meeting of their significant other, and so on. But after that conference, I came home knowing I am proud I stutter. My flame was ignited for this great organization, and it's never going out. Maybe the rest of the world may think New Jersey is just long drives on interstates. Yet, I will always have a special place in my heart for what the state did for me at the NSA conference. It allowed me to understand that while self-acceptance of my stutter is important, it is also about the journey that led me there. I know some may think it's cliched, but it's true.
One of the aims I have when I speak about my stuttering is to be raw and honest. I know sometimes the phrase "too much information" comes to mind, but when you talk about how something has impacted your life so much, there is no such thing as too much anything. I love life, even though I have and always will face more challenges than some other people. I know how resilient I can be. I am happy with who I am. And yes, I did sing a Britney Spears song. I have a good time when I speak, and I want to make sure those who listen know just how important it is to represent yourself strongly as a person who stutters. I know I may march to the beat of my own drummer. But don't we all?
I want to acknowledge the students of the class for listening to my lecture, and to thank the professor for inviting me-I hope I can return soon. But most important, I want to thank the students for their dedication and passion to this craft. I do hope some of them will join us for NSA 2009, or a future conference, and find out just what can happen when 630+ teammates raise their voices, and continue to do so. You're all going to make a great difference in someone's lives. And for those who got to raise the Cup (haha, couldn't resist) remember that "Cup" when you get your degree. Make sure you raise it very high!
My name is Steven Kaufman, and I am a person who stutters. Until next time, stand up and be counted. Make your voice heard.