Archive for November, 2007

turning points…

November 17, 2007
So this past week, a big theme among the freshman was their “turning point,” or a time in their lives that deeply impacted them, typically these turning points are deaf-related. I’m not a freshman, but I knew about this topic not only through my friends, but I had to explain to one student I tutor what exactly a turning point is. Which made me think of mine.I think I can say that I have three turning points, all deaf-related, and they have all impacted me in a different way. I will go in chronological order, since, you know, it seems to make the most sense to go that way )Turning point numbro uno: I grew up hard-of-hearing, identified myself as “hearing impaired” (i know, i know!) and never really bothered to learn how to sign since…i didn’t need it, only to communicate with my younger Deaf brother, but hey, I thought he could understand me just fine for the first 12 years of my life. Anyhoo. That’s my background information. In the middle of seventh grade my hearing plummeted, like for real. What I could hear was no more; ringing took over those sounds. So in aghast I transferred schools…left my previous life behind and went to join my little brother at his school, where interpreters were provided (oh yeah…forgot to add: I grew up in a solitary environment, no interpreters and no services…yay me, an oral success… My brother, who is profoundly deaf, went to a mainstreamed school with a deaf program and support services) and I actually hung out with Deaf people. At first this was a bit of a shock, but I got used to it…verrryyy quickly. So how was this my turning point? I learned that by only interacting with hearing people, I missed out on so much. My social life flourished and I actually had fun, minus all the middle school drama. So from that point on I started hanging out with Deaf people a lot…joined different groups and just had fun with it.Zwei: Stupid me, I decided to go back to my home school for high school (note: I have a fluctuated hearing loss, meaning my hearing will suddenly drop and stay down for a week or two, then gradually go back up, and by the time I was in 9th grade, my hearing had “stabilized” and I thought would remain throughout high school. Wrong me, it dropped three times my freshman year, but I stuck it out) But, despite my foolish decision to go back to Royal Oak schools, I still hung out with Deaf people basically every weekend. I became an active member of DeafCAN (Deaf Community Advocacy Network) in Michigan which involved going to monthly activities for youths. In October, I went to a haunted house and met even more people. I talked to Ryan Commerson while I was there, and we had a short conversation. Now, this conversation could have been a long one, but RC stopped me while I was “conversing” and asked if I was talking while I was signing. I, being the clueless nitwit I was, said, “yeah…is there something wrong with that?” He then told me that it was pointless for me to sign to him because he could not hear me, and it was making him having a hard time understanding my signing. At this, I got upset because here I had this guy that I hardly knew tell me that I was not communicating with him correctly. Keep in mind I had only been signing for two years and was still working on it. Anyhoo, Kenya Lowe straightened RC out a bit that night ) but yeah…no Ryan did a good thing that night. After thinking about it more, I wanted to know what I did “wrong” so i did some research. Upon doing research I learned ohh…Deaf culture, have? ohh ASL is a truebiz language? Ohhh…Gallaudet???? and I found out more and more…it got to a point where that’s what I did when I didn’t have homework, just look up Deaf-related stuff, and then at some point, I knew more than my friends…maybe not through experience but through research, which only strengthened my desire to hang out with Deaf people more and to become part of this….community.Which leads me to number three: I was beginning to call myself Deaf, but I was still considered deaf (try as I might, some people still say I’m only deaf). However, I was still shy around hearing people because that’s what I was like…I never learned how to be proud of who I was around hearing people. them: “whats that thing in your ear?” me: *blushes* oh its umm a hearing aid” them: “oh, I’m sorry” me: *blushes some more* “uhmm its okay” Never stood up for myself, never wanted to talk about it. So I took public speaking class, as it was a requirement (HATED IT SOO MUCH…i still cannot get up and talk in front of a crowd of people, like seriously). So I’m in this class, and the only thing I was interested in really talking about was Deaf-related things…education, culture, ASL, the works…so that’s what I talked about in a class full of clueless hearing people, who probably couldn’t have cared less. I confronted what made me different from “them” and I learned to embrace it, because really, that was what was preventing me from being happy with myself.And now? *bows* look at where I am! Gall-u-det! (uhm…this is my hard-of-hearing/oral side coming out…I hate it when people pronounce Gallaudet like that *says mockingly* “Gall-u-det”…its “Gall-ah-det” people, get it right!!)So…after my exhaustingly long monologue…it’s my turn to ask you: what was your turning point? What kind of impact did it make on you?

just throwing some thoughts out on the table…

November 14, 2007
I was working at the Homecoming football game (yes, I was one of those people sporting those *ama-za-zing* buff shirts that read bison crew go me) and experienced a rather :- (for the lack of words) moment. One man asked me for something, and signed pretty please and I retorted with with sugar on top? This guy stopped and asked me if I was hearing. When I told him I was Deaf, he said that he was surprised that I knew that, because most Deaf people don’t.I understand that that saying is a very hearing thing, but doesn’t mean that deaf people don’t know what it means. I find it irksome when people are shocked when a deaf person knows a certain saying, thinking that person either can rely on phonetics and was raised in the hearing world, or is/was hearing. While the former technically applies to me, I know a lot of people who don’t hear a drop of sound, but know that saying, among others, as well. Why can’t people know how to say it because they’re literate? Or why can’t we just know it simply because?This led me to think about other issues that we have within the Deaf community. We continue to put each other down in diverse ways, and I never really realized it until Homecoming weekend was approaching and the alumni started arriving and it was then I realized that contrary to popular belief, current Gallaudetians are pretty open-minded about things that previous students never accepted.A friend of mine told me that she came across someone while listening to music through her iPod. That person stopped my friend and asked her if she was hearing. My friend answered no, and the man said, okay then you’re forgiven. Nowadays on campus we pass people who listen to music without a second though; it’s something that has become widely accepted.We have gone a long way in terms of technology. 30-odd years ago, hearing aids were not even generally accepted at Gallaudet. Now, not only do we seeing hearing aids on people, but we see people with Cochlear Implants as well. There are people, of course, who feel that they’re not necessary (I admit, I feel the same way sometimes too – hearing aids, CIs..forfor? You don’t need to be able to hear here! **I consider this place to be a break from home meaning what?? NO HEARING AID!!**) but we are starting to look past what is in/on the ear, and more at the person and their signing abilities. I even try to look past individuals signing abilities (we all know that I’m not really one to judge!) but look at their attitude; do they want to be here? Are they willing to assimilate themselves into the Deaf world? Do they have a superiority attitude towards others?…and these questions apply to everyone, not just people with HAs and CIs. It was just weird to see older alumni come on campus and gape at people with hearing aids and CIs.There are also a lot of divisions at Gallaudet, which should be confronted and altered in order to change the outside Deaf community. Divisions include how well people are at signing. People who come from Deaf families or grew up signing ASL all the way tend to clump together, and the people who are asi asi at signing clump together, but can swing between the strong-ASL users and the weaker signers, which is the third group. One thing that bothers me the most is when people come up to me and ask me if I’m hearing. They look at how I sign and automatically assume. While yes, I can understand their view, I wish they would try to understand mine, and not make assumptions without knowing my history. I grew up oral and did not truebiz sign until 7th grade (about seven years ago) and even then, I did not sign on a daily basis.I signed maybe a total of 24 hours in one week, if I was lucky. I have no confidence in my signing, but I must say my receptive skills are pretty good. I’m done going on about myself now!…I just mean to say that people should get to know other peoples’ backgrounds before labeling them or better yet; don’t label people at all!Just some random rambling!A penny for my thoughts! How about a penny for yours?

To Go Or Not To Go…Now?

November 1, 2007

In my last blog, I left you saying that God had different plans for me than what I was expecting. I thought I would graduate with my A.A.S. in December of 2007 and attend Gallaudet in the Spring of 2008. However, by God’s wonderful plan and design, my plans changed.It was the spring of 2007, only one week before classes began. I was at church talking to the department chair of the sign language interpreting program at TJC, Dr. JB, about the upcoming semester. She suddenly, out of the blue, suggested that if I did practicum this semester, then, in the spring, then I could graduate this May. For some reason, that actually sounded like a good idea.

Now, I had know for over a year when I would do practicum and when I would graduate from TJC. I had everything planned out. I had decided to do practicum in the fall of ‘07 and graduate in December. I was surprised that I was even CONSIDERING what Dr. JB was saying. Completely change the plans I had for over a year and only one week before school? That would be crazy, right? However, because of the WAY she said it, it held a sort of ring to it and I actually told her I would think about it. Well, I did think about it….for a day and a half. She talked to me on Sunday, one week before school started; I decided on Monday to go ahead and graduate in May and possibly attend Gally in the fall.

To be able to graduate in May, I would have to take practicum while holding down three jobs and along with four other classes (which was against everything Dr. JB and the other teachers and interpreters suggested on normal occasion. They always encouraged us to take practicum separately without any other classes). The only reason I was even considering adding another class to my already full schedule (I had already enrolled in Interpreting 3, Sign to Voice, Intro to Psychology, Speech, and was auditing ASL 4 because I loved the class so much) was because I thought I might have the possibility of applying at Gallaudet.

So that Monday, I checked Gallaudet’s website for the deadline for their applications–one week to the day. It was due the day before school on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. I still felt pretty confident and daring, so I printed off the application and promised myself that if I finished it before the deadline, I would take practicum in the spring and go to Gally in the fall.

To my surprise, I had the application and all the other forms filled out by Wednesday. However, I noticed that I had to write three (3) entrance exam essays. Now, that would be a feat in and of itself (I used to take at least five to seven days to write ONE essay). But, I stayed optimistic and didn’t pressure myself, promising that if I could write three essays in three days, I would enroll in practicum and apply to Gally. I wrote and wrote and wrote for three straight days. I finished the essays to my utter amazement (there’s no way I could have done that on my own; God must’ve done something). I let my mom look over them for any mistakes I may have made. I asked her for her honest opinion of the essays, and she told me that those three papers were the worst I had ever written. I heartily agreed with her. But they were written, and I kept my promise to continue the application process.

I noticed that the application required that I have two people recommend me to Gallaudet. It was Friday morning, 72 hours before the deadline, and I had nothing. I also only had about one hour before I needed to go to work. For the first recommendation, I hurridly drove to TJC and spoke to Dr. JB. She graciously filled out the form and opened the Practicum class for me so that I could enroll.

After enrolling in the class, I went to work, arriving a little late, and called Mrs. Barnett, my ASL teacher, using the 711 relay system. That was interesting. It was my first time to talk to someone who was using a TTY. The only thing that was a little strange about it was hearing myself say “go ahead” a dozen times. It was also a funny experience, too. The relay interpreter was a man. However, when he realized I was talking to a woman, he changed his voice to sound more feminine. I tried hard not to laugh; I knew the guy was doing his best. By the end of our conversation, she happily agreed to fill out a recommendation for me.

So the next day, on Saturday, I went to Mrs. Barnett’s house for her to fill out the form. The Barnetts were so excited that I wanted to go to Gallaudet. Their love for their Alma Matter definately played a huge role in inspiring me to go to Gallaudet. While Mrs. Barnett filled out the recommendation, Mr. Barnett showed me his yearbooks from Gallaudet when he had graduated in 1964 (I think that is right). That was so neat. We visited for a few minutes and then I went back home to put everything together, tweak my papers a little, and send everything off that weekend.

With my application on its way to Gally, I just waited–untill January 30th. I got an email from Gallaudet. They invited me to go to D.C. for an interview! I was so excited! I figured that had to be a God thing because of my awful essays and the fact that only 5% of the student body at Gallaudet could be hearing. Despite all this, they still wanted me to go, so my next steps were the interview and ASLPI (American Sign Language Proficiency Interview).

I replied back to the school, telling them that I accepted their invitation, and they emailed me back soon thereafter to tell me that the interviews would be in late March. That was a relief for me because it gave me time to prepare. However, after some mixups, Gally emailed me again, and instead of a March date, scheduled my interviews for February 21st on a Wednesday–exactly two weeks away to the day.

I told all my teachers and friends about the interviews. They were all excited and encouraged me. However, I was completely freaked out. Well, it wasn’t THAT bad, but I was nervous. I felt honored to have the opportunity to go to Gallaudet University–even for a mere interview.

The saga does not end here–it continues–but that’s another story for another time.