Thursday, April 26, 2007

Memories of school

I was born Deaf to Deaf parents, and it is something I have grown up with. My parents did just fine in the Hearing world and never complained about not being able to hear. They set examples for my sister and I and showed us that deafness doesnt mean you cannot function in a hearing world.

When I was little, I had some hearing and I didnt qualify for Deaf schools, so my sister went off to her dormitories during the week and I stayed home to go to public schools. I did just fine until I lost more hearing and got my first hearing aid-- then my problems began... Other children who never saw such a thing before, got curious, "what's that?" I tried to defuse the situation with humor, "oh this? It's a little radio!" But then we moved to another state and I was dropped into a new school with older and less tolerant students. By this time, I had lost more hearing and was on the verge of needing interpreters to understand the teachers. This was all before ADA happened and interpreters weren't commonplace for schools just yet. Mom would go to the schools and tell them that I needed help with understanding the teachers and they suggested Cued Speech, since there were 2 other students that had Cued Speech interpreters at the school already. Mom argued and they simply ignored my Mom's requests.

My grades started dropping, and I remember taking a required foreign language class, Spanish, and doing fine in the written lessons, but then the teacher would randomly call on students in spanish and then I got lost. "Senorita Jenny, por favor, blah blah blah....." , then she would wait for my response. "Uhhmmmm....Si?" I changed courses not long after that!

When it came time to pick a high school to go to, I had 3 choices: regular public, mainstream, or deaf residential. My sister was going to the deaf school and every Friday when we picked her up, I remember not wanting to leave! I had so much fun socializing with the other kids and FINALLY being able to understand what was being said that I knew I was going to go there for school in the fall. Funny thing, going to public schools and using my voice to communicate kind of carried over into Deaf school. I linked up with similar students and we talked with voices instead of signing, so now instead of hearing students pointing out my hearing aid, it was deaf students calling me oral-minded and telling me this was a deaf school, to stop using my voice! I had a heck of a time convincing others that I came from a Deaf family instead of a hearing family!

Deaf school was such a joy and I look back with fond memories. I would not be who I am today if it wasnt for Deaf school. I truly opened up and became a braver, more assertive person instead of withdrawing into myself like when I was in public schools. In public school, I didnt want to be noticed for fear of more taunts and being picked on, so I didnt participate in anything, didnt make new friends. I made friends to last a lifetime when I changed to a Deaf school and to this day, still talk with many of them. Our lives have changed, many have gotten married and started families of our own, but I will always keep in touch! To my friends-- Deaf and hearing-- you have made me who I am today, Thank you!


Lantana said...

Thank you M.Mama, it is very refreshing to read some positive comments about residential schools for the deaf. And I am so happy that your experience was satisfying.

As a former (retired after 25 years) Student Life Counselor, I still keep in touch with my old students and have a wonderful relationship with many of them. They thank me often for what I contributed to their growing up years.

Please do post more and let's swap experiences and bring back some old memories!

Lantana's Latitude

jenny said...

Hi Lantana--
Thank you for your comments. I do have good memories of school, especially dorm life and would not trade it for anything! I peeked over at your blog and the picture of you with your garden caught my attention! I have been trying to get Hubby to help me install a raised garden area and have yet to convince him. I'll be showing him your blog and say, "See!! Look how nice and neat her garden is!" I will be looking forward to reading your posts, and perhaps future comments on my own posts! Until next time!

Skytalon said...

Hi M.Mama

I wanted to tell you how much I really enjoy your blog. You're the first one and the only one I added to my bloglines from deafread.

Keep writing! You always brighten my day! How did u get into blogging? I have a blog but i hadn't written much since October :(