My first SayWhatClub convention changed my life. It was 15 years ago but the memories haven’t faded.
Though I was relatively new to SWC, I had read the glowing accounts of people who attended the 2002 convention in Alexandria, VA., and how they bonded and laughed each day and well into the night. I knew the 2003 convention would be held in Seattle, just two hours away from me, and I had to be there to see what it was all about.,
Since I couldn’t get time off work to attend the full 2003 convention, I made the best of the two days I had. On Friday morning, I got up early and drove to Seattle in time to attend the second day of workshops. I didn’t know many people there, but that changed fast. During the morning break, people welcomed me, introduced themselves and chatted as if we’d been longtime friends. One group invited me to go for lunch with them. Another invited me to join them on an afternoon boat ride. I felt so overwhelmed by these generous offers that I turned them all down and spent a quiet lunch alone, in my usual comfort zone. I’ve regretted that decision ever since and vowed never to repeat it.
“People I had met online and others I had never met became instant and lasting friends at that convention.”
For the next two days, I spent as much time as possible in the company of other SWCers at workshops, social activities, the banquet and in the hotel bar, which has become a traditional gathering place for SWCers at the end of each day. People I had met online and others I had never met became instant and lasting friends at that convention.
Hearing loss is a powerful bond. Many of us don’t have family, friends and coworkers who understand the struggles we face each day. At SWC conventions, we have a lot in common, even though our hearing losses vary. We learn together, share our experiences and use whatever methods we can to communicate with each other, without fear of being left out.
“I’ve always liked to say, ‘Hearing loss brings us together; friendship keeps us together.'”
The motto of the SayWhatClub says it all: “Friends with Hearing Loss.” As I’ve always liked to say, hearing loss brings us together; friendship keeps us together. The strength of the SayWhatClub is what we learn from each other and the support we receive from our friends with hearing loss.
Since my first experience in 2003, I haven’t missed a SayWhatClub convention. It’s one of the highlights of my year. I look forward to bonding with old friends and making new ones at the 2018 SWC convention from Aug. 1-4 in St. Paul, MN.
I hope to see you all in St. Paul.
For more information on upcoming conventions, visit