Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Stutter Social Stories: Ari Gershenovitz

In continuing with getting to know our members, we spoke with another Stutter Social regular about his experiences with stuttering and his involvement in Stutter Social. Please meet Ari Gershenovitz!

1. Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I am living in Petach Tikva in Israel. I am 39 years old. I am working in the computer software area. I have stuttered from a very young age. My stuttering became so severe that I was afraid to talk with people. Just several years ago, I started to face my fears and speak with people.

2. What are your hobbies? 
I love to watch European basketball, and I always love to hear about stuttering therapy (in order to learn more about stuttering – I have more than 20 DVD's about stuttering therapy).

3. What's your "stuttering history" like? What was it like growing up as a PWS?
When I grew up, my stuttering changed from regular stuttering to very hard silent blocks. So it was impossible for me to [control my stuttering], and I avoided stuttering in any way. With my friends, I switched words, sentences,with other people. I just didn't speak.

In my head it was obvious that I just can't speak with people. I passed two"fluency shaping" treatments...it helped me to avoid my stuttering better. But still when I felt I am going to stutter, I didn't know what to do. Only several years ago, after discovering StutterTalk, I started to face my stuttering even if it is very hard.

Today, I can communicate with people, not always easily but still I can talk and stutter.

4. How did you find out about Stutter Social?
I am a friend of the great Hanan Hurwitz, who is one of the hosts of Stutter Social. So I knew about it, but it took me a while until I dared to try it.

5. What made you give Stutter Social a try?
I will start and say why I didn't try it before. My stuttering is very unstable. In some situations, it is not so hard. But in other situations it is very hard. Talking in English was always one of my hardest situations. It drive from several reasons like being unable to switch words, thinking about the sounds, forgetting words, and other reasons. So I had a big fear to talk in English. In the last few years I improved my confidence to speak in English, but still the fear was there.

Also I didn't know who would participate…and if my English will be good enough. So I was thinking about it, but I didn't dare participate.

My first Stutter Social try was on International Stuttering Awareness Day. I decided that it is a special event and maybe special guests will appear. I knew that I needed  to face my fear and to participate in this group, and this was a good time to start. When I tried it for the first time, I figured out that it is not so frightening, so I continued with  it.

6. How did Stutter Social help you?
First of all, I gained confidence to speak in English which was an impossible mission for me in the past. And now it is still hard, but possible.

Second, I have met wonderful people from all over the world. And also I hear about other people who stutter, how they cope with the day to day life with stuttering, and it has helped me to feel that I am not alone.

7. What tips would you give other PWS?
The tips I can give is: try to learn how to stutter, try to stop all the things you do in order to hide your stutter. It is OK to try to speak better, but when you feel the stuttering come, the best solution you can pick is to just stutter.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Recap of 2014 International Women's Day broadcasts

Last Saturday, March 8, Stutter Social celebrated International Women's Day 2014 with a series of broadcasts about stuttering experiences among women in partnership with the International Stuttering Association.

Many great conversations took place, thanks to our moderators - Anita "Scatsis" Blom, Pamela Mertz and Annie Bradberry - as well as our panelists and viewers. Topics ranged from how women who stutter deal with being respected in the workplace (given the rise of women in increasingly visible leadership roles), to romance and how perceptions of stuttering may differ among men and women.

All three broadcasts are embedded below and available on our YouTube channel. Please feel free to post any questions or comments you may have. International Women's Day 2014 may be behind us, but the conversations can continue!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Celebrating International Women's Day with discussion about women and stuttering

In partnership with the International Stuttering Association, Stutter Social will be celebrating International Women's Day with three special Hangouts on Air to be live streamed on YouTube on Saturday, March 8, 2014. In honour of the special day, topics will cover the woman's experiences with stuttering.

It is said that 1% of the world's population stutters and 1 in 5 people who stutter are women. The three Hangouts, which will feature a panel of participants, will be facilitated by Stutter Social hosts, Annie Bradberry, Pamela Mertz and Anita Blom. Each of them are prominent leaders in the worldwide stuttering community and have overcome their personal challenges with growing up stuttering.

The Hangouts on Air will be an hour long and will take place at various times throughout the day at the following times:
  • 3 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time (San Francisco) hosted by Annie Bradberry
  • 3 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (New York) hosted by Pamela Mertz
  • 3 p.m. Central European Time (Stockholm, Sweden) hosted by Anita Blom
We’ll be chatting about stuttering experiences among women and fielding questions from viewers. While the Hangouts will only be available to panelists, we invite anyone watching on YouTube to share their questions and comments on the YouTube page, Facebook or Twitter (with the #pwschat hashtag). We hope you can celebrate International Women’s Day with us!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Being A Stutter Social Host

Stutter Social host, Pam Mertz, originally published this post on her blog, Make Room For The Stuttering.

When I was asked to be a Stutter Social Hangout host last July, I figured it would be something I’d try and do for about three months. I wasn’t sure I would like it and I also wasn’t sure if I could make the commitment to host every other week.

I’ve been hosting since August and find that I really like it. In fact, I find myself looking forward to it when my turn to host rolls around.

For those of you unsure what a Hangout is, here’s a quick description.

The Hangouts run through Google + Hangout software, which is free and easy to download. Using a computer or mobile device equipped with a microphone and some type of camera device, up to 10 people can meet up in a video conference and have a conversation about anything and everything.

It’s like having a support group that you don’t have to drive to. You can “hangout” from the comfort of your own home, car, office or where ever you are, and dress casually too. You can even wear your pajamas!

I like the diversity of people that come into the hangout sessions. In some of my hangouts, I’ve had people from as many as 6 different countries hanging out and talking at one time. We talk about stuttering, and lots of other things. Sometimes we don’t talk about stuttering at all.

But everybody stutters and everybody feels comfortable stuttering. It’s a safe and supportive environment to talk with other people. And you can come in to the group when you can, and leave when you have to. It’s a wonderful sense of support and camaraderie, among people who “get it.”

If you’re interested, visit the Stutter Social website for a calendar of when hangouts are held during the week.

I host every other Sunday, from 7:30-9:00pm, EDT. I host this Sunday. I’d love to see you there. It’s a great experience.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Stutter Social, ISA to host three Hangouts on Air for International Stuttering Awareness Day on October 22

Photo credit: International Stuttering Association (ISA)
International Stuttering Awareness Day (ISAD) 2013 is around the corner on October 22! In recognition of ISAD and to raise awareness of stuttering, Stutter Social is teaming up with the International Stuttering Association (ISA) to host three Hangouts on Air -- in other words, they will be streamed live on YouTube.

In three separate Hangouts, participants from around the world will be chatting for an hour about all things related to stuttering. For those interested in learning more about stuttering, they will also be fielding questions from anyone watching on YouTube.

The Hangouts will all take place on October 22 at 8pm in three different time zones -- Eastern Daylight Time (U.S), British Summer Time and Eastern Daylight Time (Australia), respectively.

Stay tuned for updates via the Twitter, Facebook and Google+ pages, as we will be circulating the links to the Hangouts and YouTube broadcasts there. Those watching who want to submit questions to the participants can do so via YouTube, Facebook, Google+ or Twitter with the #pwschat hashtag.

Whether it's in the Hangouts or watching on YouTube, we would love to have you celebrate ISAD with us and the ISA!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Introducing two new hosts: Anita "Scatsis" Blom and Hanan Hurwitz

Left: Anita "Scartcis" Blom (photo credit: Blom); 
right: Hanan Hurwitz (photo credit: Hurwitz)
Stutter Social is pleased to announce two new additions to its lineup of hosts: Anita "Scatsis" Blom from Sweden and Hanan Hurwitz from Israel.

Blom works as the operations manager at the Workers' Educational Association and has stuttered since she was nine years old. She was 27 years old when she first met another person who stutters. "From that moment on, I no longer let stuttering control my life, but to take charge of myself," Blom explains. "I got rid of a huge backpack with bullying, guilt and shame, and became active on local, national and international boards." As she says, she recycled "all that luggage to support other people who stutter, and to give stuttering a face and passionate voice with young people being closest to my heart."

She heard about Stutter Social through the grapevine on social media and wanted to get involved. "I love to be where people who stutter meet, most of all at international gatherings," she says. "This was the perfect opportunity to meet people from all over the world, but this time in my very own living room."

When hosting Stutter Social hangouts, Blom says she hopes to "talk about stuttering and therapy, but also about cultures, experiences, fears and joys, as we need not to forget how to enjoy life with stuttering and all. I hope to bring people together, share stories, learn from and support each other."

When not hosting Stutter Social, Blom can be seen either working or engaged in one of her many stuttering-related endeavours. She is the international contact and former chairperson of the Swedish Stuttering Association, vice-chair of the European League of Stuttering Associations, and member of the advisory board of the International Stuttering Association. "But I try to find time for my family, my dog, my saxophone, my books and social media," she adds.

And in case you're wondering, her nickname, "Scatsis," is dedicated to the late Scatman John of the 1995 hit "Scatman (Ski-Ba-Bop-Ba-Dop-Bop)."

Meanwhile, Hurwitz is a product and account manger at an electronics manufacturing company, and has also stuttered since his childhood. "I am at a point in my stuttering journey where I can give back to the stuttering community and try to support other PWS [people who stutter]," he says. After hearing about Stutter Social from his friends at the National Stuttering Association, he became inspired to become a host.

In terms of what he looks forward to about hosting, he says it's the opportunity to "enable other PWS to feel that we are not alone and that we can survive in spite of our disability."

When not working or hosting Stutter Social, Hurwitz enjoys reading, playing his Fender Stratocaster guitar, and meeting PWS worldwide. "I [also] am interested in business and engineering, and mentoring start-up or small companies in order to build organizational excellence into the company from the start," he adds.

Blom and Hurwitz will be hosting Wednesday's international hangout at 2pm Eastern Standard Time/8pm Central European Time. Starting an hour earlier than the previous Wednesday hangouts, they are taking over from Kenyatta Butler and Krishna Srinivasan, who are stepping down temporarily to pursue new educational and professional endeavors. While we're sad to see them ago, we wish them the best of luck, and we're excited to have Blom and Hurwitz on the Stutter Social team.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Introducing two more new hosts: Annie Bradberry and Pamela Mertz

Left: Annie Bradberry (photo credit: Bradberry);
right: Pamela Mertz (photo credit: Ali Salem)
Stutter Social is also proud to announce two more additions to its lineup of hosts: Annie Bradberry from California and Pamela Mertz from New York.

Bradberry is a person who stutters from Tustin, California and former executive director of the National Stuttering Association (NSA), which she first heard about as a teenager. "At that time, I was not ready to face [my stuttering] or let alone call someone, so I did nothing for two years," she says. "We didn't have Stutter Social, Facebook, or even texting back then. When I finally did pick up the phone, my entire world changed. I am blessed to say that I have been involved in the stuttering community for my entire adult life."

It was on Facebook at the NSA conference that she first heard about Stutter Social. "I knew this was something I wanted to be a part of," she says. "I thought back to the beginning of my stuttering journey when there were no social media outlets. I remembered feeling alone and isolated, as well as remembering how it felt the first time I spoke to and met another stutterer. [It's] amazing to connect with people from all over the world."

In her spare time, Bradberry says she has taken up painting "as a way to de-stress from [her] crazy lifestyle." An avid traveller, she has also been "fortunate to meet people from all over the world, traveling to stuttering conferences in Iceland, Norway, Belgium and a few other places."

Meanwhile, Mertz, a person who stutters and program manager in adult education from Albany, New York, also learned about Stutter Social through social media. Since then, she has participated in many hangouts. "I enjoy having the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life who share the experience of stuttering," she says. "I like having an option for a virtual support group, as we all need an opportunity to be open, share, and learn from each other."

When not working, hosting, or participating in Stutter Social, Mertz, a self-professed theatre geek and writer, can be seen taking in a show or writing for her local newspaper. She also manages the blog Make Room for the Stuttering and hosts the podcast Women Who Stutter: Our Stories. "I enjoy hearing people's stories and helping people find a way to tell their stories," she says.

Bradberry and Mertz will be hosting the Sunday evening hangout, alternating every week at a new time: 7:30 PM Eastern Standard Time (Toronto, New York).