It’s all coming to a wrap and in ways that seem a blur each time I remind myself of where I was at with my life a year ago.
I am sitting at my desk at the moment, my Benson Hall dorm room with bare naked walls and just my bags on the floor with things for summer break, and I’m putting together this final blog for my first year at Gallaudet. I can’t say I have one single regret for how it has all come together and how it has all played out. I’m actually really, really satisfied with the decision I made to come here. I have begun to draft, design, decorate, and don my life once again, and that is the outcome I feel one is given the opportunity to create when they find their identity removed from being in jeopardy of being lost. I could feel that happening back in Arizona. I could sense that I no longer knew who I was or where I was going; “tomorrow” became the most intimidating concept when it should be the most wonderful concern. And the “present” had become something that felt more like a curse than a gift. No one should allow themselves to live in a way that robs them of their gusto for living life. When a life reaches that point it should be the call for action, and that is what I did in my case. And now I’m getting ready for a summer break again at 27 years old. This is awesome! I have to give tremendous thanks to my Vocational Rehabilitation counselor, Sharon Schira-Layton, back in Arizona because after I transferred from my previous VR counselor (I qualified for VR support when I lost my hearing in the right ear at age 22) Sharon unselfishly took me under her wing to help provide me the tools I needed. She is Deaf and a former graduate of Gallaudet so it was a good thing she was available to me when I lost my hearing. She found me a Deaf ASL tutor after I indicated that I thought it would be good for me to learn the language. Then she put the idea on the table for coming to Gallaudet, like I mentioned in a previous blog. Had she not been so proactive and slightly aggressive in aiding me to act and get on with my life as a deafened person I am not sure I would be where I am right now.
The experiences out here have allowed me to see more clearly where I fit in the grand picture of things and to assert my presence. Every day I am able to have conversations with people in which I’m not struggling to hear them and I can’t say enough for how incredibly relieving that is when your past involves sooo much expended energy to communicate this way. After a while it led to a reaction on my part of backing off from conversations only because of how exhausted they made me. Albeit my eyes were weary in the beginning when ASL assaulted them with its blur of hand and body movements but with enough time I grew to tolerate and then enjoy the language. Making the choice to attend a university where a more user-friendly language for a person without reliable hearing is the common way of communicating is allowing me to turn my attention to other things rather than the constant berating concern “how am I going to talk with that person?”, etc. It all has me excited for this next Fall semester when I already can see the package of things I want to be involved with. Feels like I really started to gain my momentum here at around the time of the First Year Study Tour to Costa Rica over the Spring Break. Sometimes things just happen when you are ready and you really don’t have much control over that. Of course, you can force your way into and through things, and I have extensive experience in trying that. But I think I’ve found that approach tends to only leave you feeling like you are repeatedly pushing against the wall of an inflated rubber jumping castle not actually getting anywhere in the process. I’m planning to work with Green Gallaudet next Fall, as well as, write for a department on campus, work as an English and Biology tutor at TIP, put together a couple community service projects, and possibly play either or both soccer and baseball. And my efforts so far garnered me some end of the semester gifts that are each completely unexpected: a $25 gift certificate to the Bison Bookstore (perfect to use tomorrow to pick up things for the road trip West), a Purple Communications Netbook (their alpha phase mini notebook with their P3 technology that Honor’s Program and other well achieved students were referred to receive, and a Canon digital camera to use for when I continue to write for GBlog next Fall and can then add photos to support the stories. Who’d have thought it all work out like this?! Yet the best part of it all is the friends and contacts I have made since July 2008. They all have me looking forward to another couple years here and getting to know a lot of people while learning a language from them and also stacking up those life experiences.
Let the summer begin!