Monday, October 3, 2011

Training Reflections

Street lamps illuminated the empty streets. The city slumbered as we drove through the night towards the airport. Only a few souls walked the lonely airport terminal before my plane glided through the black sky, under a full moon that seemed so far away.

And just like that, I was gone.

The scenes of night, blurred by both my tears and a week-long rainfall,  slowly melted into sunrise. A band of orange and red hovered over the East behind me as I sped West to a brand new day and a new life with Americorp in New Mexico.

I'm really enjoying Americorp so far in a land of eternal sunshine. During training, we are traveling to all of the different placement sites of the New Mexico School for the Deaf (NMSD) Americorp members. We have the opportunity to meet with the deaf children we will be serving, as well as their families, and their teachers.  The families opened their hearts to share with us their fears and joys. These parents want the best for their child but feel alone with a limited support network in the rural towns. That's where we come in.

Talking with them brought back a rush of emotions as I was reminded of who I was 20 years ago. I saw myself in those children’s eyes. I saw my own parents standing in front of me. I saw my teachers, not really understanding but obligated to help somehow.  I didn’t understand the frustration and the confusion. I didn’t understand why I was so different and why everyone (including myself) wanted to make it look like I was not. I worked so hard to put those feelings aside and become a successful adult. But seeing those families exposed a raw wound that has long since healed, a painful feeling that was necessary for me to fully embrace the work that has been cut out for me. These families are doing the right thing to be seeking help for their child. I am thrilled to be able to make a difference at the point in their life parallel to the same time when I needed it the most.

I’m enjoying getting to know the New Mexico School for the Deaf. The outreach program amazes me with their dedication to deaf babies and children.  NMSD worked hard to make it a law that whenever a deaf baby is born, the hospital’s immediate point of contact is  NMSD.. Hopefully, this will reduce the severity of language delays by ensuring babies have language before it is too late. The team pays incredible attention to detail to ensure deaf children have language and education, such as driving across the vast desert for a personal visit or organizing an incredible Americorp program!

I am proud to be part of a dedicated and successful team! I have so much to learn and do! In just a few days, I pack my motorcycle for the long ride to Roswell/Carlsbad area, a place I'll call home for the next year.

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