This year was my first FRIENDS Convention and it was truly amazing! For the convention I went to Omaha, Nebraska with my parents. Leading up to it I was very nervous, but also very excited. Ever since going to AIS I have seen how amazing the stuttering community is and being around it for three whole days was life changing. Being around so many people who know what you’re going through, have gone through the same stuff as you and are so supportive was such a great experience. There were so many great moments from the convention, so I wanted to share some of my highlights!
Making friends and meeting amazing people:
Everybody there was so nice and they all made my first convention so warm and welcoming. I don’t think I have ever meet so many people who were so friendly and understanding. It was such a great experience being around all people who stutter that it was almost weird. What made it weird was that I was totally myself around people I just met, which never happens to me. Stuttering has made people think that I’m a shy person, but I’m not. I’m a very out going person, but I’m always afraid that I will stutter so I tend to isolate myself around new people. Since everybody at FRIENDS stutters or understands and supports you, I wasn’t afraid about my stuttering, so that made it so easy to be myself and make incredible friends.
Hearing everyones stories about stuttering:
Listening to everyones stories and experiences about stuttering was so inspiring. I related to so many people it was crazy. It’s so nice because stuttering is something that you feel like you go through alone and hearing that other people go through the same thing is very comforting. It was also very inspiring to see what so many others at the convention have accomplished in spite of their stutter. My future has always been a big concern for me, I worry my stutter will hold me back from being successful in college or in the career I want. Hearing how other people are successful in school and work gave me hope that my stutter won’t hold me back. This was so nice to see because I don’t know many people who stutter who I can get inspired by. It was such a great thing to experience.
Going out to advertise on Friday:
On Friday, the second day, we talked all about advertising your stutter and that afternoon we went out to Downtown Omaha and practiced advertising. This was so nice and helpful. While we were out I got to talk to more people which helped us all get closer. Practicing advertising while out with other people who stutter was so helpful. Advertising can be a scary thing to do, so having other people’s support was so amazing. Advertising on Friday was also so great because Downtown Omaha was so cute. While we advertised we went to the shops and after we all went to get ice cream. The FRIENDS Convention took over that ice cream place and we had such a great time!
The Saturday Night Dance:
On Saturday night FRIENDS has a dance. This was my favorite part of the weekend! It was such a fun night, we danced all night. I got closer to the friends I already had and made even more friends. The dance was a great way to end an amazing weekend!
As soon as the weekend was over I already missed the convention. I didn’t even hesitate when people asked if I was coming next year. The next convention is in Chicago and I couldn’t be more excited to go. If you have the chance to go to a FRIENDS Convention, you totally should! It was a life changing weekend!
The American Institute for Stuttering is a leading non-profit organization whose primary mission is to provide universally affordable, state-of-the-art speech therapy to people of all ages who stutter, guidance to their families, and much-needed clinical training to speech professionals wishing to gain expertise in stuttering. Offices are located in New York, NY and Atlanta, GA, and services are also available Online. Our mission extends to advancing public and scholarly understanding of this often misunderstood disorder.