turning points…

by
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?
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