Written by Pedro
Three years ago, I went to my first Erasmus+ exchange for people who stutter. I didn’t imagine at the time it would change my life. I will come back to this topic later.
Before the exchanges, I have met pws in my second year of university. It was one of the best things in my life. Cause this “problem” can be in the front of your eyes, but still hidden, you need “special glasses to see it”. So, the persons that deeply know what you go through daily, are other pws. We are special, it’s good. How to explain stuttering to a fluent speaker? It’s so strange, try to say ‘coffee’ but the word won’t get out, the more you force it out, the more it gets stuck and air won’t come out from your throat, it can be frustrating. The best example I come up with, is holding your breath and trying to speak at the same time, it’s not easy right? Well we are professionals doing it, please don’t feel bad, it was many years of training, I think you can do it too.
As professionals, how do we survive in daily life? It’s a challenge sometimes, but not so much complicated. If one word blocks, you can change it to one similar, it works, so some pws are like real dictionaries. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense, and if you want coffee, you won’t ask for another thing, it’s crazy, but I did it once. Or you can change your voice like almost singing, it’s another area of your brain working, so you won’t stutter.
But doing this “techniques” daily is very tiring, frustrating and you’re only avoiding the problem.
So now I will stutter on until I say it, I am not sorry, because I should have my time to stutter and say something funny. Well unless of course, it’s a life-threatening situation, it will be okay to use them.
Now back to the exchanges, it’s was so cool to know pws of different countries and cultures, would their daily life problems be different? Mostly it was the same and they stutter the same way, so stuttering was the bond and the connecting point between us, very enlightening.
The exchanges are like very good opportunities to learn about other countries and cultures, stuttering too but we are “professionals”. Very important is that these exchanges are the best places to stutter, it’s a safe place. Stuttering can be hard, so here we can feel good doing it and be more comfortable with ourselves, sometimes we are so hard at us, for example: “why did I stutter in the job interview”. So here we learn about our fears, work on our goals and talk freely stuttering or not. This year I sang on the stage, it felt great.
In these exchanges, we support each other, share cultures and have great moments. I made amazing friends, some I still talk with on a daily basis.
It was good to meet old friends from previous years, they changed so much, I’m very happy for them.
In the end, it feels bad to say goodbye, but it isn’t ‘goodbye’, it’s ‘I will see you later.’