My first course was an emotional experience, especially because Jordan was with me.
I divided the day into two parts: the morning session with teens and an afternoon session with the families of babies-children-teens with profound hearing loss.
The theme for the teens was: Who will I be when I grow up?
The various slides and presentations served to motivate the teens to consider all aspects of their identity. I showed a couple of optical illusions to reinforce the point that not all in life is as it seems and that oftentimes we need to alter our focus to truly see all of the possibilities. What resulted from our discussions was that the teens did not totally consider themselves as Deaf, nor did they consider themselves as "Hearing". We talked about "Tweenersville", a concept I first discussed on this blog four years ago. They feel a certain peace in Tweenersville, especially during our session, because every single person in that session belonged to that land in the middle between silence and sound.
I asked each of them to turn off their amplification, then I distributed post-its to each person and asked them to describe their sensations. Here are some of their responses
When I turn off my ha/ci, ...
I see everything that surrounds me with different eyes...
I feel peace/apprehension
I don't hear anything
I feel at a disadvantage and alone
I feel like I am no longer a part of this world, I try to hear as much as possible even though I know that if someone speaks to me, I can't hear them
I feel like I'm in another dimension where there is nothing but vibrations
I am in my world of silence where only I exist
and then... When I turn on my ci/ha, ...
I hear sounds, voices, footsteps
It seems like my mind opens because I have returned to reality
I feel relieved because in this way I can be a part of everything that surrounds me and I truly feel like I am a part of this world
I feel happy, a person like everyone else
I feel free to hear the sounds and melodies of the world.
We did other activities, but this is just to give you an idea of how deep the discussions got during that session. The group of teens were extremely united among themselves thanks to the commitment of the Association who invited me to hold the course. It is so important to give our kids the opportunity to meet other children living similar experiences...not once in a while, but often.
After lunch, I met the families. I presented a Powerpoint "It isn't a sprint, it's a marathon"- the concept Naomi Higgs has shared since the beginning of the Ci Circle. I also used an article on disability that a CI Mom suggested after my request for resources. The article states these 7 fundamental points/moments that we all experience during our journey
1. I am tired.
2. I am envious.
3. I feel like I'm alone.
4. I am scared.
5. Could you please stop saying "Poor child".
6. I am human.
7. I would like to speak about my child / It is truly difficult to speak about my child.
All of the parents could relate and those further along the path spoke of how exceptional their experience with their children has been. They spoke of the strength they never realized they had, and when the mother of a 4 month old stood up to say, "I hope I will have the strength to help my baby like the rest of you have had..." there was a collective response: "You will find that strength."