Advocacy is worthwhile

On July 18, I received an e-mail from a parent of a young deaf child which reinforced to me that the work I do is certainly worthwhile. I am even more fired up to keep going in all that I am doing – writing, advocacy and educating.

Hi Phoebe,

I hope that the Singapore weather has been kind to you in the past week. This week felt like a tropical rainforest everywhere we were at.

I have been reading your blog for the past week. There were really good entries that cover a very wide spectrum of topics. It is really courageous of you to open up your personal experience after all these years. The idea of Deafness as a culture is also impressive. To place Deaf culture parallel to race and language really opened up my perspective.

As we have spoken, deafness is still at an infancy stage in Singapore. I think there is a lot of space for expansion in the many aspects of the culture. Just the other day, I was engaged in a conversation with my neighbour regarding Leonard and I had a hard time trying to hold the conversation as she delved into typical stereotypes for the deaf.

I figure that this experience provided me with some incentive, direction and drive to spread the word on the culture to pave the way for a more livable society for my son in the future. 

I look forward to more thought invoking conversations and exchanges! Let us make a difference in our life times! I think that Li-Sa has something going on very well. I think I should be participating within the community more actively in the coming months and years.

Regards,

Charles

I am so glad I made it to the newly-formed parents with deaf kids support group which I was invited to on Saturday, 11th July, even though I was battling jet-lag having just arrived in Singapore from Washington D.C., 3 days prior.

What an excellent initiative by Li-Sa Wang and May-Low Tang to reach out to parents with young deaf kids. Kudos to both of them for their passion and dedication in their work. I had the opportunity to talk with different families and to listen to their struggles, as well as share my experiences upfront as a Deaf person. As I listened to some parents, I felt extremely concerned for their deaf child’s future. It is not easy to challenge Asian mindsets towards deafness and disability. Elements of Asian culture in itself is already a barrier. Recognizing this fact, has made me all the more determined to challenge stereotypes towards deafness and disability in Asian contexts through writing narratives.

The conversation I had with Charles went on for about an hour which led to me revealing some of the highs and lows of my life story with him. I also found myself talking heaps about my Gallaudet experience and how it has been such a positive journey and a highlight in my life. I presented to him more than one reality with its effects (oralism in a hearing world or Deaf culture), and asked which one he would embrace. I am pleased to know that the conversation between us gave him hope for his young deaf son and to hear that he is keen to get involved in the Deaf community at some stage. It will be a journey with its ups and downs but it will all be worthwhile in the end. Giving up my Saturday night just to attend this meeting was worth it. It reminded me of the story of The Boy and the Starfish. To know that my presence made a difference to “that one family”, even though I was not able to get through to all the parents I spoke to on a one-to-one basis on that night, was enough. 🙂

I am thankful to Gallaudet University for equipping me with the skills and ability to think of the right words to challenge people’s notion of deafness in a way that makes them think deeper, in both conversation and in writing. I am even more thankful to God for blessing me with the mind and the strength to undertake the tasks I do, and for the passions that He has placed in my heart. This is only the beginning. I have so many more project ideas waiting to come into fruition. 🙂

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.  

~ Steve Jobs

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2 thoughts on “Advocacy is worthwhile

  1. What a wonderful letter. Thank you for sharing it here, and for teaching all of us about Deaf culture. I’ve recently started studying ASL (next class stars in two weeks!) and find myself fascinated with both the language and the vibrant culture behind it. I look forward to reading more of your posts!

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