Aren’t all of us different?
Yesterday evening I was watching The First Blast on Dawn News while working on an article I had promised I would submit to Reba Shahid, Editor of Spider Magazine – yup multi-tasking at its best 😉
Sonia Rahman and Amina Ali were interviewing a bright young woman on TFB who had set up The Stammering Association about 10 months earlier, after having decided that she just had to take control of her life. She was fed up of having no confidence and being unemployed.
I find stories of this kind truly inspiring but this time it was something in particular that grabbed my attention. The young guest on the show said she had completed her Masters in Computer Science from the UK and had then returned to Pakistan only to find that she was unable to get a job for 16 months. She couldn’t get past the interview because of her speech disorder.
I wasn’t clear whether she wasn’t able to get a job because she couldn’t communicate easily with the person who phoned to set it up or was it that companies didn’t shortlist her because of her speech defect? If it was the latter, I will be very disappointed. For certain jobs good communication skills are certainly essential but for fresh programmers, isn’t the ability to work with colleagues and team leads sufficient? I would have thought it would be her analytical and coding skills that they would be looking at.
Since November she has obviously gained a lot of confidence because she was able to have a discourse on television with very little trouble. Most of us who don’t stammer would have started to stammer out of fear of being on screen. She did a good job pointing out what the issues are – the lack of sensitivity mainly – like mimicking a person who stammers, making fun of them, completing sentences for them because of impatience, making faces, feeling sorry for them, thinking of them as handicapped.
The First Blast team followed this up by bringing on two kids who stammer – a young woman with a CS degree who is presently employed at Sidat Hyder and apparently very happy there, and a young man who is studying CS at Szabist. Both of them talked about lack of confidence that initially kept them from doing the things they wanted to. These two young people seem to be well on their way to achieving their potential due to the support they received from The Stammering Association and the encouragement they got from their parents, who told them that nothing was impossible if they would only reach out and make the effort.
I think it is great that the team from The First Blast is talking about these things. As Sonia pointed out when talking to her guests, sometimes we do things with good intentions, believing that we are providing assistance – like finishing sentences for others, when in fact it is one of the things that irritates people with speech defects the most. So much to learn, so little time.
Biases, prejudice, making fun of those who are different from us are all weaknesses in our own character that each of us needs to address. And when we do, it will turn us into much better human beings.
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