On Thursday I woke up without a voice. It was the first full day of the conference and we had oral presentations before lunch and the shared poster session in the evening. It is incredibly frustrating to not be able to communicate the way that you want – especially at a professional conference. It was impossible to keep the flow of conversation going because people constantly had to ask me to repeat myself. I realized two things. The first is that I talk a lot. So maybe losing my voice, if only for a few days, is good training to improve my listening skills. The second is that it can be isolating to be surrounded by so many people and not be able to participate in the conversation. Words and language are how we feel connected to the people and community around us. So maybe I got a small (minuscule) glimpse into the world of an ESL student. Fortunately, my voice was back in full force within a few days. It probably won’t take many more days for me to forget to the feelings of annoyance and isolation of not being able to communicate effectively.
We are very thankful that the IDSS gave a voice to the community of international students in the ACS.