It's not goodbye...
Being here has opened my eyes… in America, I basically lead a normal life as an educated person who has a supportive family and enjoy many basic rights in society. Especially in Minnesota, I also live in an environment where Deaf Awareness and ASL is so strongly promoted. However, I am not doing enough. I was going through life as a teacher helping the future of the Deaf in my own way- expanding children’s knowledge of the world one by one. Now I realize that I want to do more.
We need to be aware of all the efforts in the progress to basically eradicate the Deaf World. The situation may be better in America where so many people support bilingual education (at least compared to other countries!) and where ASL is actually cool and many college students want to learn the language. However, we need to prepare for the future… I really do not want us to be trapped in a situation where we are caught empty-handed, unable to defend our culture and ways. We need to be armed with statistics (which the government loves) and change society’s perspective on the Deaf World- removing phonocentrism and audiocentrism. We need to face it- mainstream society is obsessed with the ability to speak and hear, and associate that with being successful in life. Without these skills, we are unable to succeed, many people believe.
We may not be able to keep up with the race of cochlear implants or genetic engineering (yes, they have already found a way to “cure” deafness in mice!) BUT we can help influence what people think. If society is aware of Deaf people and the Deaf World, a parent who suddenly has a Deaf baby will be able to better accept the fact and perhaps not see the need to change their child.
Being surrounded by wonderful Deaf people for basically 24 hours everyday, attending Deaf events, learning from Deaf professionals and reading works about the Deaf World was overwhelming and tiring at times. (we often had to stop from discussing Deaf issues at the lunch table!) But it did make me realize how rich our lives are, how fortunate I feel to belong in the Deaf World. Now I understand why my (hearing) parents say their lives are more rich and complete with a Deaf child; it is something that cannot be replaced.
Although this is a “farewell” note, it is not goodbye! I have many goals- both personal and relating to Frontrunners projects; I intend to keep the Frontrunners website and this blog updated with my progress. Back home, I will be doing more research on the situation of cochlear implants and genetic engineering in the USA and become more involved in Deaf organizations/events. I have always been a part of the Deaf Community but in a more sociable form, now I am interested in becoming more political and being involved in advocacy. The Deaf youth are our future and they are the ones who will make sure the Deaf World does not become history; I will give workshops and teach them about different issues that is important for them to know and understand. I also want to teach them about activism, how important it is to become involved and to fight for our rights- our future.