Day 1: Twenty participants arrived (in spite of rain). Mostly young and from North India. First we had a real bash up with twenty nursing students. Sachin had briefed them before hand about PDS (Persistent developmental Stammering) and definition of "communication" - It is Exchange of "meaning", not merely words or sounds. They were briefed also about their role- they had to ask questions and practice active listening skills. Subsequent "Rapid Intro" exercise went very well. Nurses realised how they are supposed to talk to a person who stammers.It was a high octane one hour!
Then, Hemant distributed pad, pen and the two hand outs: Stammering Interview and "How to give and receive feedback" in Hindi. Couple of in-depth intro rounds, some energisers, lots of laughter - mutual interviews, moderated feedback session - and finally the group was ready to go out in to the REAL world.
In OPD, we interviewed strangers and practised various skills with them: eye contact, smile, consistent use of a technique (bouncing or prolongation). Another feedback round outside OPD: most people felt encouraged: First time, they had given themselves the permission to stammer. Result was just opposite of what was expected. They felt lighter and talking to others seemed a lot easier.
After lunch, we introduced more techniques- inter-twined with the philosophy: you can see stammering as a diversity, as your uniqueness- Within a broader drama of life, you could see your personal drama, as someone who WILL stammer sometime and it is OK..
A joke round, finally got many more people to review and think about their attitude towards stammering- with a laugh. Then, mini presentations in the big OPD hall. For additional challenge, some participants were asked to present in English. Surprisingly, they did very well, in spite of their initial hesitation.
We dispersed at 6 pm. Some of us stopped for a coffee and another long discussion at Vijay's tea shop.. When pws talk- time moves so swiftly! It was dark by the time we finally said good bye,: Khub jamegi, jab mil baithenge..(you know rest of it!)
Day 2: Morning- recap; some free flowing discussions; Some unstructured feedback. Then, we took up mutual videography and review. The purpose of this activity was to help people become "conscious" of their secondary behaviours. Once you become aware, it starts melting away. Next- self assertion skills, using role plays.How can you respond, if someone tries to mock you or just asks: do you stammer? etc. How do you respond?
Another brain storming activity was: What are the various subtle/ creative ways in which you can let the world know that you stammer? The group came up with many unusual ideas including - having a group photograph of your TISA meeting on your FB profile, on your desk or in your drawing room.. and having a coffee mug on your office table with inscription: I am not like rest of you 99%! I am different! I am next Rithik Roshan! - or something positive and affirmative like that.
Then, sachin gave four sets of drama scripts to the four sub-groups to prepare.
Post lunch: The sub-groups staged the four plays; They shared the feedback in this order: First feedback was given by the actors themselves. Next, by the audience. And finally, the feedback was given by the facilitator (Pawan Rathore).
Feedback from the participants, later in the evening, about drama, was: It was fun; it promoted "team work" among the actors; It encouraged participants to speak spontaneously and in an unusual format. If life is a drama, then, we too are actors playing a role of a pws! We can enjoy this "role playing"- and genuinely laugh about it.
Day 3: It had rained in the night; In the morning, about 9 am, weather opened up. We met in the marketing complex at Guru Kripa in Vikasnagar. Up-ending our comfort zones, we did role plays in the covered marketing complex. Everyone rose to the challenge- did lot of Vol.Stam., laughed and had fun. A new participant, who had just arrived from Saharanpur, just rolled with the flow and participated in one of the role plays ex-tempore, very well. Then, we had a debriefing session in Kumar restaurant: some songs, then lunch! After lunch, we dispersed. See the play-list above for a glimpse of all the activities.
A feedback from a participant clinched the soul of these three days: I have lived an unhappy life all these years- no friends, no one who could understand what I was going thru.. But now, I know that there is no reason to be unhappy- and I intend to celebrate life now.. every moment of it!
(Thank you, Hemant for setting it up- from all of us!)