One Monday morning at 7:30 am I clicked the link to attend the Deaf Awareness Alternative Winter Break. Deaf Awareness is such a broad topic so I didn’t know what to expect. I knew there are Deaf and deaf people in the world. I knew some American Sign Language but I didn’t know what I was in for. Our break left December 13th for Washington D.C. We were told that for the first half of our day we would work with Deaf REACH. Service: UNKNOWN. The second half of our day would be spent at the Kendall Demonstration Elementary School on Galludet University’s campus. Service: Working with children. General enough.
So what did we end up doing?
During the first service we worked together to 1. Pack over 600 Safe Sex Kits, 2. File paperwork, 3. Shred years of papers 4. Design information business cards, 4×6 cards, T-shirts and, 5. Decorate office door displays. This service was one of the most rewarding jobs because we could see our work getting done. We were able to see progress through out the week. What does this have to do with Deaf Awareness? Well, half of the staff is Deaf and uses American Sign Language as their primary language. The week was spent pushing ourselves to learn new signs, sentence structure and practice communicating with people within the Deaf community. Instead of the staff giving us “volunteer work” which usually breaks down to just filing and cleaning, they took us on as ‘staff.’ They gave us real projects. They made our time feel meaningful because we were giving them real work.
At Kendall Demonstration School we worked in two separate groups. Half of the group spent time with the Kindergarten and younger kids while my group worked with 1st-4th grade. This was another amazing time for us to learn signs we’ve never used before.
I can’t wait to take these signs back to my classes as I finish my American Sign Language minor. I find myself causally throwing signs into my daily life. I hope that in my future I will be able to find friends who are also interested in American Sign Language. It is so helpful when you’re far away from someone or in a loud area. In the last few years I have noticed a slow decline in my hearing and I hope that in my future I will be able it to communicate more clearly.
A few moments from our trip…
The final day with all of our Safe Sex Kits.
We learned about safe sex.
Our grow outside of Deaf REACH.
We traveled by Metro.
What is Leadershape?
A few months ago I signed up for a program called “Leadershape.” Everything I had ever heard about this program was “I can’t explain it, but it changes your life.” That isn’t very descriptive… Going into this ‘life changing program’ I didn’t know what to expect. I assumed it would be an awesome experience but I under estimated the impact the program would have on me. Being the skeptic that I am, I was hesitant to dive right into the program. I found myself sitting back and watching. That was my biggest regret of the week. This week I surrounded myself with some of the most kind hearted and impactful people I have ever experienced. Leadershape opened my eyes to myself. It showed me that I have the ability to stand up for what I believe in, stick to my core values and do something amazing in the world.
My sophomore year of college was extremely difficult. It put me in a bad place. This school year forced me to second guess myself. I felt lost. I felt dumb. It drained me of the enthusiasm for life I once had. This week rejuvenated me. I feel enabled, confident and that I have a million options again.
Leadershape is something I wouldn’t trade for the world. Everyone should experience this program. It is amazing how much of a change I felt and saw not just in myself but the entire group.
Now I plan on being an active citizen to conquering my dreams. In my perfect world children would never spend anytime waiting in the foster care/adoption system. Every person/couple seeking to create a family would choose to adopt instead of having a biological child. A family is a family, whether it’s biological or not.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
Dr. Joyce Baugh is a professor at Central Michigan University in the Political Science department.
Joyce Baugh was pro-Detroit. She loves the city. She spoke to our class before we left for our service project weekend. She really educated me on the city. I never thought about what really harms Detroit: racism. She interacted with our class by asking questions on the history of Detroit. She was beneficial to the class. She gave us back story on where we were going. She also helped to clear the air about the negative side of Detroit. She taught us a lot about the once thriving motor city. I wouldn’t mind taking one of her classes in the future. She was extremely interesting and easy to listen to. Since her speech and our trip, I have rekindled my love for service work and the city.
Drew Dudley presented on Everyday Leadership. His speech was about why we revere leadership as such a high and mighty quality to have. He talked about how leadership isn’t something we’re going to eventually get it. He also addressed that we don’t appreciate each other enough. We don’t tell those who are important to us how much they truly mean to us enough. We’re all born with it, it just depends on how and/or if we ever end up expressing it. He shared a story about when he was working at a university. He gave a lollipop to a new freshman boy and told him “Give this to the most beautiful girl in the room.” He ended up handing the lollipop to a girl who was extremely close to dropping out. That event kept her at the university.
The reason he created this speech was because he was touched by the fact that this woman found out he was leaving the university soon and she wanted him to know how much he had touched her life. He’s actually unable to recall that event. I think it’s relevant to student leadership. He didn’t do something unbelievably impressive. All he did was use an icebreaker to make the boy branch out a little bit more. I agree that we need to let the people that have made changes in our lives how much they’ve touched us.
I already try to do this. I’m not a touchy or expressive person. I don’t tell people I love them or hug them very often. Sometimes saying things like that are like pulling teeth for me. Since I don’t tell people how important they are to me very often I like to send cards to my friends every once and a while. Everyone loves mail and it’s usually a great little surprise.
Click here for a link to the video.