My Experience at the NSA Conference

rebecca Rebecca Tasker

This July, Daniele, Carolina and I attended the NSA conference in Cleveland. We ended up taking a greyhound bus all the way and even though some parts sucked we saved some money and got to know each other a lot better. Carolina had been to NSA conferences in the past and Dan and I were the "First Timers". Not knowing what to expect i was extremely nervous and didn't really understand why, but once we arrived and everyone was meeting each other I felt alot better!

It was kind of a surreal experience to introduce yourself while stuttering your name, and the person you are introducing yourself too stutters their name as well!! And that happened within the four days, multiple times a day as we met sooooo many people!

For those of you who have not attended a conference I will tell you all a little about what we did during the four days. The Wednesday was kind of a meet and greet mingling experience. People were arriving throughout the afternoon, evening and night so they didn't hold any workshops or sessions until the Thursday morning. Like i said Wednesday was just full of meeting people, drinking and just socializing..kind of like our Meetups! So we ended up staying up late into the night as who wants to sleep when you are meeting so many people who are JUST LIKE YOU??

Thursday morning was indeed rough, as the workshops began at 8 or 8:30 in the morning EVERYDAY!! Which is to be expected because they have soooo much to jam pack into four days! For the first morning my roommate and i went for breakfast and then went to the Introduction for the "20 somethings" session. This is where we introduced ourselves to everyone, were asked where we are from (Yes I was the only Canadian in the room) and did some Icebreakers. It again was a surreal experience because you are sitting amongst such courageous people, who you instantly are connected to as we all stutter. Some mentioned what they did for a living, and i was flabergasted to listen to these people who were scientists, engineers, med students, SLP's and Teachers, every career in the book – and they all were people who stuttered! The main theme i got from this is that they don't hold themselves back from being successful, which is something i personally struggle with! So I was inspired and very emotional!!

Throughout the day we would attend as many workshops as you wanted too, from The Iceberg Analogy workshop to You Can Be Successful As a Person Who Stutters. I can bring the program to the next meetup if anyone is interested in seeing such workshops that were available to us. There were so many workshops at the same time, so some friends of mine would go to one and I would go to the other and we would tell each other about the  workshops! There was time for about three workshops a day, then some downtime, dinner and then BAR TIME in the evening!! We went out around Cleveland a few times to the local bars and it was a great time! We ended up being in Cleveland when Lebron James decided to move to Miami Heat, so everyone was going crazy with this, setting his jersey on fire in the street, rioting etc. It was very interesting!!!

The four days were similar to each other, as we just met more and more people. We listened to speakers, NSA ALL STARS told their stories about stuttering and how it has impacted their lives, which was very emotional for me and alot of people. Saturday was the banquet, we had a sit down dinner, live auction which was cool and just drank and it was an excuse to get dressed up and dance the night away!!!

I just wanted to share this with all of you, because i definitely recommend going to this conference. I was told it would change my life and INDEED IT CHANGED MY WHOLE PERSPECTIVE AS A PWS!!!! To confidently, openly stutter is something i have always had a hard time with, but i have made a deal with myself that i will stutter and this is who I am, accepting that will take time but I am well on my way to reaching this goal for myself!!! I have made lifelong friends and will keep in contact with them, because it will better myself and as people who stutter we need the support of each other.

Carolina, Dan and I missed all of you, and if it works out would love all of you to attend next year. The conference will be held in Fort Worth, Texas!! Hey, its an excuse to go to Texas!!