International Stuttering Awareness Day 2016 (Welttag des Stotterns) in Berlin, Germany

In October 2016 we held our 05. McGuire Programme Intensive Course in Germany, this time in Berlin. The hotel was located in Ostbahnhof in the Friedrichshain quarter, now part of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg borough of Berlin. Interestingly enough the Ostbahnhof was featured in the 2004 movie The Bourne Supremacy. In the film, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is seen parking his car here, entering the station and leaving a bag in a locker, and tracking down Pamela Landy (Joan Allen).

McGuire Programme in Berlin

McGuire Programme in Berlin during our 'Public Speaking' and 'Talk to Me' Sessions in Alexanderplatz! 

This was my 11. time instructing a McGuire Course and my 12. year as a member of the programme. And with every course I like to make changes so it’s a bit different each and very time. This time was no exception; I couldn’t have asked for a better course, the new students and the returning graduates were up for the challenges ahead and everything worked out perfectly (but there’s always room for improvement with little tweaks here and there - and it can only get better!)

We had five new students join us in Berlin and 25 returning graduates from all over the world. Our biggest German course to date. I really enjoy the international aspect to the German Region of The McGuire Programme, it adds additional flare and we get to know so many people from different cultures and customs - a bit like Berlin itself with it’s diverse range of locals and visitors from all over the world.

We were lucky enough to have our first media coverage of The McGuire Programme in Germany during this course. RTL Television (formerly RTL plus, originally Radio Télévisioun Lëtzebuerg), or simply RTL, is a German commercial television station that I contacted prior to the course in the hope of getting some media coverage and helping to spread the awareness of stuttering and the programme itself. I had the added advantage of holding our October course during International Stuttering Awareness Day 2016 (Welttag des Stotterns 2016). RTL wanted to cover ISAD 2016 and really liked what we do, plus the fact that we are very similar to the self-help groups for people who stutter in Germany; after-all, we (the McGuire Programme) are people who stutter helping people who stutter to control their stutterers. As the slogan goes ‘For Stutterers By Stutterers’.

The cameras and the camera crew arrived on the Wednesday evening for the start of our course and stayed with us for the next 3 hours. No pressure there then!!! They recorded the introduction to the programme along with some personal interviews with graduates and recorded some examples of us ‘drilling the lines’ during a typical McGuire course. A little disruption to the general flow of things but it all worked out smoothly. And well done to the graduates who volunteered themselves to be recorded; a big thank you from the McGuire Programme.

The coverage didn’t stop there! The crew met with us again in Alexanderplatz on Saturday for our ‘Public Speaking Challenge’ and ‘Talk to Me’ Events. They also followed Beate, one of our graduates around ‘Alex’ while she was making street contacts and talking to strangers using the McGuire techniques and this showed another example of how a person can change in a short duration of time as Beate is only 14 months on the programme.

We held our ‘Public Speaking Challenge’ and ‘Talk to Me’ Events in Alexanderplatz (only two stops via train from our hotel). Alexanderplatz is located on the Mitte District of Berlin and is a large public square and transport hub. Little did we know that ‘Alex’ (local Berliners call the public square this for short) is patrolled by the Police (Polizei) 24/7 and you can’t hold a public gathering for more than 30 minutes without a permit (we where there for 90 minutes before they approached us and tried to figured out what we were doing and if we were political motivated in any way! They kindly gave us 10 more minutes to pack-up and move on.

This was our first time using the ‘Talk to Me’ style event. This involved our graduates holding up banners with ‘Talk to Me’ printed on it in various languages (depending on where they where from). This event is similar to our street contact sessions except it was reversed (aka reversed contacts session) whereby we invited strangers to approach us instead of the other way around; it was a great opportunity to meet and talk with people who stutter and to play our part in ISAD2016. 

RTL showed the coverage during the main evening news (18.45 Hours) in Germany on Saturday 22.10.2016 for ‘Welttag des Stotterns'. The show was aired to over 2.4 Million households in Germany. Not bad!!! Our intensive course was still running when the show was aired but we took a break for 15 minutes to watch the news and ourselves on TV. Very exciting times and well done to all - you all looked great on the gogglebox!

Our Berlin course finished just over two weeks ago, and all the new students are doing really well.
What we do on our courses and beyond is very special. No other programme offers the help and guidance for people who stutter from people who stutter. The support is second to none and the empathy and encouragement from our members makes everyone feel part of a supportive community network with a mission, a play of action if you like.

If you would like to be apart of this large community of people who stutter helping people who stutter, you have the opportunity to join us for our next course in Germany in Berlin, from 01.02. to 04.02.2017

If you are interested in joining or hearing more about us please get in touch with the local representative, Emmet O’Connell Handy: +49 176 83405026 / email:

Here’s a quick link to our ‘Online Application Form’:
- There is no obligation to join by filling in the online application form - -

If you have any questions you can also get in touch via our WhatsApp Group