Brian's Ramblings

My thoughts in text, photo, and video form

Monday, March 14, 2005

Moments of Clarity

Living in a society that is so fixated on what is to become and looking ahead, rather than appreciating the here-and-now or the past, you often get caught up in the moment and could become lost or lose sight of what your overall goal is. We also do a poor job in acknowledging the good that we do, well at least that's the case from my cultural perspective. Japanese tradition frowns upon those who bring attention to themselves and those who bask in the glory of the spotlight. At the same time, we are PROUD people, who take pride in all that we do (as a culture). I guess this brief background provides a little insight as to why I felt the way I did on February 28, during my participation in the breakout session headed by Mellanie Lee.

This session explained the amazing journey of Sharon and Eulalia, the deaf girls from Pohnpei State, and how they ended up attending college here in Hawaii. A panel of about 10 individuals shared a little about their unique roles in supporting Sharon and Eulalia. I've had the great fortune to work with these girls for almost 2 months now, and it was neat to get a broader glimpse into the support that they have received and continue to receive in order to get to where they are at today. It was especially meaningful to hear about the great progress they have made in terms of becoming acculturated to American culture, as well as Hawaii's culture and their great strides in learning English and American Sign Language. They have also grown as individuals, becoming more responsible and knowledgeable as to what is expected of them as college students.

Each week, Steven (my wonderful co-worker and friend) and I have been working with the girls, teaching them how to take pictures and use iPhoto to create story books. We have Sharon and Eulalia take pictures related to a specific theme, and we would have them write sentences to describe the pictures that we would print out for them. I never really took the time to grasp what Steven and I were doing, in terms of helping the girls develop proficiency in English, but during the presentation I had time to reflect and internalize what we had done/are doing and really got a clearer picture as to how much Sharon and Eulalia have progressed. At first, both girls were very shy and reserved, not communicating more than was necessary. Deciphering what they were trying to say was challenging, as they used very broken English...however, I really could see a distinct change within a few weeks of their coming to work with us each Friday afternoon. I'm SURE that their teachers at the community college are the main reasons why they demonstrated such significant growth, but perhaps, just perhaps the fact that they had to communicate with Steven and I primarily through written communications (as we know NO ASL, nor have we had the luxury of an interpreter, except for one time when we were lucky to have Jan volunteer her services for a bit), mainly via typing on the computer or on my DynaWrite played some role in their developing their English even further. So, as I sat there and listened and then listened to Jim and Steven share a little something about their role, I felt a moment of of "I AM doing the right thing!" and another of "This is why I love what I'm doing!"

The ability to see the impact that your helping efforts has on someone is simply priceless. It provides you with validation that your efforts are actually purposeful. Sharon and Eulalia always thank us for helping them, but in reality WE should be the ones thanking them. The lessons and experiences I have gained through working with them are such that they are invaluable, NO textbook or classroom lecture could have taught us what we have learned and are learning. I feel much more confident in my ability to interact with deaf individuals and those who view English as a foreign language. Steven might have different thoughts on how the girls have impacted him, but I think the common lesson in all of this is that you get as much from something as you are willing to put into it. Each week, I try and do my very best to teach the girls something new, and I know Steven does the same. And in return, we have seen two individuals grow right before our doesn't get any better than that!

I have LONG weeks, but I can honestly say that I truly look forward to Fridays at work. For one, I get to spend much of my day being around "B" (I'll share more on that in another entry) and I get to spend my afternoons with Sharon and Eulalia. Their enthusiasm and zest for learning provides ME with all the energy I need!

After the presentation on that Tuesday, it was almost like a dream-like sequence of events. I congratulated Mellanie on doing an awesome job with the breakout session and then out of nowhere, Miss Deaf Minnesota appears! I had no idea who she was, all I knew was that her traditional costume (I believe from Thailand) was just beautiful and she had to be one of the cutest individuals I've ever seen in person! Then, it became a bit absurd as she took pictures with me and then I had Sharon and Eulalia around me....I still have no clue how everything transpired, but it was a fun! How often do you meet a Miss from a pageant? Not often! And, you sometimes hear stories about how "beauty queens" can be a bit high strung, bordering on rude, but Elee (I'd learn her name later!) was so friendly and plain ol' happy! I'm sure she'll do extremely well in the national pageant that will take place later this summer. So, that's why I have more than one picture of her on my blog...I'm simply acknowledging her friendly disposition...yeah, that's it! Okay, sure she's cute, too!

After that, I met with my friend Landry to discuss Art Enabled. Landry has graciously assumed a larger role in the whole project. I'm very happy to have her on board! I also know that my friend, Sabrina will continue to be pillar of support as we progress to the date of Art Enabled, July 22, 2005. If you are interested in participating or volunteering, please contact us at I must take this time to thank everyone who has expressed interest in participating and volunteering in AE 2005. Landry and I extend a big mahalo to Dr. Cecily Ornelles, who took the time to meet with us last Friday to discuss the "vision" of Art Enabled. I know I left the meeting feeling even more enthused and committed to making AE 2005 as best an event as possible; as Landry put it, this year will be "bigger and better" than the original (which was awesome in itself!).

I ended my Tuesday feeling anxious and nervous, as the National Capacity Building Institute loomed just hours away! More on the CBI in a future post.

Randomness for the week:

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Happy 21st birthday, Christine! I remember being 21...

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A view from Ward Centre Theater Complex. It must be a
neat feeling to be that crane, high above the hustle and
bustle below (IF inanimate objects had feelings, of course).

Until next time, have a great week. Never underestimate the power of ONE, or at least the potential power. And, if you're going to have Long Island iced teas, don't drink them on an empty stomach...on second thought, go for it, if you want to increase the potency of the effect!

A reminder: Comments are ALWAYS welcomed, you can easily post feedback (even anonymously, if you so choose) by clicking on the "comments" link found at the end of this entry. Exercise your First Amendment!


  • At 7:00 AM, Blogger Sandy Fonseca, M.Ed.,CRC said…

    Long Island Ice Tea?! I was sure you were a "Bud" man.


  • At 10:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You Rock my friend. I'm down in American Samoa with Jim and wishing you were here. He told me about your blog site so we checked it out. Amazing!Tell my buddy Brandon... Aloha. Till we meet again..


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