STAMMAFest is an opportunity I definitely won't be missing

19th July 2022

Our STAMMAFest Global event next month will be Bhupinder Purewal's first time at a stammering conference. Although feeling nervous about attending, here she tells us why she decided to book a ticket.

*Update 14th August: Sorry, we have stopped taking bookings for STAMMAFest Global.

I have booked my STAMMAFest Global ticket and I can't wait. I booked it for the chance to meet other stammerers from across the world. Becoming part of STAMMA and setting up my own support group in Coventry opened my eyes to the stammering community — a community I never knew existed until recently.

For most of my life, I felt as if I needed to get rid of my stammer in order to lead a normal life. I would try to hide it at every opportunity, and found it almost impossible to speak about my stammer without getting emotional. I had a difficult time when I first set out to become a teacher, as a number of people on my training programme were concerned about my speech. This made me doubt my ability to be an effective teacher, and even my ability to ever live a normal life. I felt incredibly isolated from everyone around me; it was as if I were the only stammerer in the world.

STAMMAFest will be very different to anything I have experienced before. For the first time, I won't have to mask my lack of fluency when introducing myself! 

Since becoming part of STAMMA, however, I have learnt to not just accept but to embrace the way I talk. Meeting other stammerers this year has helped me to see stammering as a valid way of speaking and has given me so much confidence in myself. Whenever I have a difficult day, there are so many support groups I can reach out to. There is no greater feeling than speaking to a fellow stammerer who understands what you are going through.

Anxious but excited

I have spoken to so many stammerers this year, but it has been largely over Zoom. The chance to meet people like me in person at STAMMAFest is an opportunity that I definitely won't be missing. There'll be people coming from overseas too, as it's combining the International Stuttering Association World Congress. However, the thought of meeting so many new people face-to-face is also something that I am quite nervous about. Because of Covid, it has been a long time since I have met lots of people in person. Before a social event, I usually get anxious because it is something which requires me to speak, look relaxed and, most of all, hide my stammer. STAMMAFest will be very different to anything I have experienced before. For the first time, I won't have to mask my lack of fluency when introducing myself!

There is also so much that I can't wait to get involved in. Just looking at the list of events, there are workshops about empowerment, exploring stammering through performance art, expanding our comfort zones with virtual reality and even singing and drumming workshops. This will be such a great opportunity to connect with other stammerers by sharing experiences together. If I'm feeling really brave, I might even join the open mic sessions!

Additionally, due to the support I have got from STAMMA, I will be presenting my own talk at the conference about how teaching has enabled me to embrace my stammer. As nervous as I am about this, it will be a chance for me to share my experiences with other people and let young people know how rewarding a career in teaching can be. More than anything, I have learnt the value of both perseverance and a strong support network, particularly when navigating a career for the first time. These are the things I can't wait to share with other stammerers.

Read more about Bhupinder's experience as a teacher, in her article 'How teaching helped me embrace my stammer'

Two women in running outfits holding flags and looking at the camera
Tayo & Bhupinder
A speaker on stage at STAMMAFest 2023

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