Stuttering Gave Me a Special Affinity Toward Others

By Achilleas Souras

Achilleas Souras speaking at the Model United Nations Conference in New York City. 

My name is Achilleas Souras. I'm 16 years old and I live in Barcelona. Growing up, talking wasn’t always easy for me. Speaking on the phone was hard. There were times when I was mocked and other kids finished my sentences for me. Sometimes I changed my words because I stuttered more on certain sounds. I believe that my stuttering gave me a special affinity toward those that are misunderstood or labeled. I turned my energies into basketball, a game that allowed me to be myself, without feeling the pressure of verbal communication. It was through Bob Love, my basketball mentor, that I met Susan, a Seattle-based speech therapist. We formed an instant connection. I committed to 5-8 hours of daily speech therapy to face my biggest challenge ever.

It was uncomfortable at times as we recorded my voice, discussed my feelings, role-played speaking situations and practiced in public. It was also the most rewarding thing I have done. I discovered words were within my verbal reach. I learned to “own” my stuttering.

Last year, I came up with the idea of making an “igloo” art-piece that I named “Save Our Souls.” I created it out of discarded refugee life jackets from the thousands that were amassing on the Greek islands. The life jackets symbolized a sturdy “soul” that had managed to carry a human being to safety across rough seas. I hoped to create public awareness. I started receiving requests to have my “art piece” exhibited at museums around the world. After that, I started receiving requests for interviews over the phone and on radio, and although a bit nervous, I did them. I am now preparing to go to Milan for the International Design Fair where I am building a new installation based on the original concept. I am excited and hopeful that my project will continue to be a reminder that we should use more than just a singular perspective to understand the people and the world around us.

Archilleas makes the igloo.
The exhibit was at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. The igloo was featured in the Big Draw, where lots of people participated in the events.

 

Posted March 30, 2017