Most of you have experience of dealing with classmates, friends, or relatives who stutter. In fact, there are 70 million stuttering people across the globe, comparable to the population of the UK. Yet, little is known about this stammer kingdom and hardly anyone living outside our country has ever visited us and had a taste of our unique lifestyle. This is clearly a failure of our tourism promotion. As most of you are fond of travelling, I would like to share with you our culture. Our unique culture is characterized by distinct mentality of speaking and resultant behavior patterns.
Let’s start off with mentality. As a result of childhood trauma, we never view speaking as a natural flow and innate capability. We care way much about our performance of speaking, especially how others evaluate our performance. Oddly, the performance is only fluency-wise not content-wise. In an effort to be seen as fluent speakers, we are always on the lookout for words that pose potential dangers, i.e. the word we may stumble on. Once a dangerous syllable is identified, we would adopt strategies that are developed over years in an attempt to hide our stammer. Yet, none of these would have a lasting effect and only reinforce our fear of stammer. As a consequence, we feel embarrassed each and every time we stutter, and with the flow of time, we avoid speaking situations that will reveal our confidential citizenship, which also explains the failure of our tourism promotion: after all we rarely speak up in public. These social anxiety and low self-esteem severely degrade our satisfaction with life, leaving us among the least happy countries, together with North Korea.
If you are given a chance to visit our country, walk in the street, visit the silent cathedral and talk to local people, you may repeatedly identify these behavior patterns.
To begin with, we rarely make eye contacts with the person we speak to. The reason is that we cannot accept the confusing or even dismissive expression on others’ face. Secondly, we rush words and in the meantime stumble on words. This is often explained by our wish to quickly finish the sentence and the difficult words will not stand in the way. Unfortunately, this does not help often. Finally, some coping strategies, as I mentioned earlier, such as adding filler words or tapping foot, are still prevalent in our country.
Now you get a picture of how our country looks like. To be honest, our country is currently not in a good shape. School dropout rate is high, so is unemployment rate. Most importantly, most of them are experiencing a degraded quality of life. Nevertheless, we have not received international aids despite our population as large as UK. People care about countries in poverty, countries at war, and even endangered animals, whereas they tend to neglect their immediate neighbors living in the darkness. On behalf of my fellow citizens who are afraid of revealing their confidential nationality, I ask for patience and understanding from you. As a return, we will offer you our stories, our kindness, and a new perspective of life. I can assure you visiting a country geographically far-away is far less inspiring than visiting a country psychologically distant.
Written by Shaoxiong Sun, Member of Kings Speakers