Burak Demirci, Regional Director of Turkey
I couldn’t say my words, but could only say words that never belonged to me
I have had a stutter as long as I remember. As a child I always felt that I was different from the other kids and I thought that my stutter was going to dictate my life. Once in the kindergarten a boy asked me why I was talking so weirdly. I tried to do my best to speak fluently and answered that I really was able to talk fluently, but that I was only messing with everyone and pretended to have a stutter. This is one of my earliest memories from my childhood and today I understand that I was already ashamed of my speech back then.
I quickly found out that my stutter somehow was dependent of my state of mind meaning that I could sometimes have good or bad days. When I was happy and confident I could sometimes control my speech, but more often my speech was completely out of control and I could not be the person I wanted to be. I used to think of my stutter as some kind of a punishment, similar to the myth of Sisyphus; the gods had condemned Sisyphus to an eternity of rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, then watching it roll back down again. So I thought about my own stutter. When I had good speaking days and found myself on the top of the mountain I was frustrated every time to fall down and start over again. It all started to make sense when I joined the McGuire Programme and understood the mechanisms of stuttering.
Due to my severe stutter and low confidence I held back in many situations and could not fulfil my potential. It was almost impossible to do a phone call or to give a presentation in front of my class back in school. I often found excuses to avoid situations, because I knew that I was going to stutter and be humiliated. I felt that I was only a half man, because I could not do simple things that others just took for granted.
I tried various solutions in order to get control of my speech, but it never worked permanently. In December 2010 I attended my first McGuire course, which was in Malmö, Sweden. Besides learning the tools to control my speech the course taught me to be more open-minded, honest and proud of myself. I came home as a completely new person; as a whole man. I got the confidence to show everybody my true voice and to face my worst fear. Nothing was going to stop me again, even though I knew it was going to be hard. In the end everything is possible with courage, hard work and perseverance.
The McGuire Programme has been life changing for me. After joining the program I have reached further than I could ever have imagined. Today I speak in the phone at work, which I thought was impossible before my first course. I have successfully given speeches at the Toastmasters and also managed to tell my story about my stutter at a Danish theatre in front of 200 people, leaving the audience to tears. My story was in Danish and can be found using the link below:
I live in Denmark and was born and raised here. Being of Turkish origin it has always meant something for me to bring the programme to Turkey and to help stutterers gaining control over their speech. Therefore I took the role as Regional Director of Turkey in 2016. I hope that I can give back what I have gained from the programme and I am ready to help bringing the hope to Turkey.