About the presenter: Keith Boss is from the UK. He is a Board member of both the British Stammering Association (BSA) and the International Stuttering Association (ISA); Chair of ISA Outreach, reaching countries around the world; Toastmaster and past Vice President of Education, involving improving Communication and Leadership skills, and uses technical meditation to improve thought processes, decision making and life in general. He shares that he is a widower with a "living apart together" partner and he enthusiastically gives something back to society, especially people with a stammer. (keithmaxkb@yahoo.com)

You can post Questions/comments about the following paper to the authors before October 22, 2010.

My visit to India

by Keith Boss
from England

Introduction The 2004 International Stuttering Awareness Day Online Conference featured an article "The Cracked Jar" by Claudia Groesman, one of the three founders of the Spanish Stuttering Foundation (http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/isad7/papers/groesman7/groesman7.html). The article included a powerpoint created by Claudia illustrating a story written by an anonymous author many years ago. Caudia's wonderful powerpoint is reproduced below.

Read The Cracked Jar Story here
picture borrowed from Paulo Coelho's Blogsite

I was that cracked jar until 2006. Then I talked with my water loader and decided to 'avoid avoidance'. I asked the International Stuttering Association (ISA) if I could help them. The ISA and some National Associations had many requests for help from Indians. The ISA asked me to raise stammering awareness in India and Pakistan. I recruited a team of Indian People Who Stammer (IPWS) and planted the idea of The Indian Stammering Association (TISA). Dr. Sachin joined the team. Over time, Dr. Sachin became the widely respected Coordinator of TISA.

During the period between 2006 and 2009 the changing team members created the first TISA website (www.indiastammering.com) and later a second website (http://stammer.in/). The second website has become the main TISA website in current use. Attached to this is a very active blogsite (http://t-tisa.blogspot.com/) . Many TISA members and others post in IndianPWS, a yahoo group (http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/IndianPWS/). They have recently published their first newsletter

A milestone event occurred near the end of 2009. TISA was registered as a Charity. Initially, I wanted to arrange an ISA team named International Speech Project-Stuttering (ISP-S) to make the visit to celebrate their new achievement and to help them spread awareness around India. An ISA ISP-S team usually consists of one or two Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) and an ISA Board Director. I am a Board Director and the Chair of ISA Outreach (we reach out). I know ISP-S teams have done very well in the past and I wanted to mirror their success in India. However, the ISA had no spare funding so I made a private visit.

The visit (11th to the 26th of February)

The kindness and help from all the members of TISA involved in the visit in any way was outstanding. Members

The trip to Delhi, Pune, Chennai and Herbertpur was much the same in each place. Groups of us were talking about stammering/stuttering. We were not reading or writing, but talking (very important). Once I introduced myself as a person with impaired vision (I wore glasses), a person with impaired hips (I walked using a cane, because of 4 hip replacements), a person with impaired speech (I stammered), a person with a brain (I could think) so I was much, much more than my stammer. I challenged myself to verbally communicate (smile and use good body language) better each day. The main purpose of my visit was to meet IPWS, SLPs, Parents of children who stutter (CWS), Media, Teachers and Employers, in order to give them an International perspective on everything members of TISA already knew, and to hopefully give them a few new ideas to consider.

My Indian trip began with 2 days in Delhi when I met members of the Delhi self help group (SHG) at different times. Dr. Sachin joined me and we spent time with the local SHG. There were 30 participants at the SHG, including parents with a child who stammered. I spoke about pre 2006, when I was 'reborn', and parts of my 5 years since 2006. Other contributors talked about and led discussions on PWS/SLP/Parents/CWS/Employment and Employers. Several people spoke and questions were asked during and after the meeting. Before leaving Delhi, Dr. Sachin and I were driven to the offices of Livemint. Livemint has a newspaper, an online news service and we did a video clip for TV and the online service. The video clip accompanied 6 page online article on stuttering. Livemint had a shorter version of the article in their Newspaper.

Dr. Sachin went home and I flew to Pune.

Pictures from the Pune Self-Help Group

As in Delhi, I was made very welcome by several members of TISA. They joined me in the hotel room and there was a lively discussion until late evening. Two morning workshops at Infosys (an employer) and two afternoon SHG meetings were arranged on consecutive days. These were for IPWS and parents of CWS. Attending were members from the Goa SHG and Akash Acharya (ISA Advisory Board member), his mother and a journalist who gathered information for an article that was later published about "Stammering Employees: Skills Underutilised."

At Pune we covered

Groups of us talked in our free time about many issues relating to stammering and self-confidence. At the end of our first day, we went out for a drink and evening meal. On the second evening, a group of us went to Chowki Dhaani, a Rajasthani theme spot where there was excellent village entertainment and a good Rajasthani feast. Both evenings ended up in my room for further talks.

I flew to Chennai and stayed in a YMCA with good conference rooms. Members of the local SHG welcomed me and talked a lot about many issues covered in the previous days.

Pictures from the Chennai Self-Help Group

Dr. Sachin joined us from Herberpur and together with two local SHG members, we went to a meeting at Cognizant, one of the biggest IT companies in India. The Human Resources department was hosting the meeting of about 40 staff members. All four of us spoke about different things. I covered issues regarding improving the communication skills of all staff and suggested Cognizant should host SHG meetings for their staff who stammered and a Toastmasters club for all staff, because both would help to improve communication and leadership skills. These clubs would help Cognizant to help their staff to become assets that are more useful and help the staff to seek more responsibility if they wanted promotions. Later the local Chennai SHG (who agreed to help Cognizant with their own SHG) held a fabulous first anniversary meeting. There were several speakers and an audience of at least 35. Everyone had a chance to speak.

During my visit to Chennai, a small group of us had a meeting at the beach under Gandhi's statue (some had a paddle in the sea) and we went to visit some very ancient monuments by the sea. Dr. Sachin returned to Herbertpur, but a group of four of us had an enjoyable 3 hours as guests at a local Toastmasters club meeting. At the beginning of the evening, all guests were asked to introduce themselves; I evaluated one of the three main speakers and at the end of the meeting all guests were invited to talk about their first experience at an Indian Toastmasters club. The whole group was made to feel very welcome.

The last leg of my journey was a flight to Delhi and then to Dehradun, where I was met by two of the Herbertpur SHG. We drove to Dr. Sachin's home in Herbertpur. Later a few members of the SHG met at my hotel and guess what, we talked.

At Herbertpur I visited the homes of Dr. and Mrs. Sachin and of Mr. and Mrs. Jain. Mrs. Jain helps Dr. Sachin with female members of TISA and her husband is a great supporter of TISA and a leading Industrialist involved in the tea industry.

Dr. Sachin and I visited two schools to talk to the teachers (40 in the first school and 50 in the second). We talked about CWS and what could be done in schools to help them. We went to a meeting of the SHG that was held at a local hospital. I spoke a little about my life up to 2006 and my life since then. Dr. Sachin and Rev. Moses talked about their experiences of stammering in India. Everyone at the meeting, including parents, had a chance to speak or sing. I was given a beautiful bouquet of flowers and an Indian shawl. It was good to see so many people talking about stammering. The next morning Dr. Sachin and I went to a lovely lake in the foothills of the Himalayas. Private discussions covered many things, including meditation. Then we went to another school where we talked to about 30 staff members about CWS and what could be done in class at no extra cost. In the afternoon, we went to a college for training teachers. We addressed both the college staff and students. All four principals at the four places of learning were very welcoming. Dr. Sachin translated my talks.

My last day at Herbertpur involved