Nine new students. Thirty-five returning grads. One documentary crew. Two mums. Mix in a large amount of courage, determination, vulnerability and commitment, along with the typically variable Melbourne weather, and you have all the ingredients that, combined together, formed the recent Melbourne Beyond Stuttering Course.
Nine people made the decision to join the McGuire Program, demonstrating courage in stepping into the unknown. Many expressed trepidation, in self-preservation mode during the first night. Over the next four days, they gradually learned how to drop their defences, one at a time. This is not just a course about speaking; this is a course where we learn to face our fears one by one. We become better people because of it. It is life-changing, not just speech changing.
This progress is only possible because of the expert input, guidance and encouragement from coaches during the four days. Not just about learning a new speaking technique to control their stutter, but also about reaching a new level of self-acceptance. It was great seeing the new students take on the public speaking challenge in Federation Square Saturday, despite the influence of a Melbourne rain squall.
Returning graduates were treated to a range of split sessions over the four days aimed squarely at taking the knowledge from these courses into their day to day lives. Into the real world. These sessions gave grads the chance to plan and run sessions themselves, discuss the topics in detail, and challenge themselves to take the next steps to become the person they were designed to be.
Finally, the mums who sat through the whole course, listening, encouraging, volunteering to be contestant judges, and even organised a 21st birthday cake for one of the new students. Not only do the mums learn a lot about the technique themselves, but they also make the learning environment so much more special for everyone else.
This was the last Australian course for 2019; we now look forward to Perth in February 2020. Until then, keep finding out what your absolute best is, challenge yourself, and face those fears rather than running away from them.