â€œNothing in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.â€
This has proven true for many different circumstances I have been finding myself in. The students, alumni, faculty, staff and people were passionate about their beliefs during the protest on Gallaudet University campus. Even during my visit to NAD headquarters, I was amazed to see that the staff there - every single one of them - fueled with passion to make a difference in for the lives of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals. On my trip to Wisconsin, I met different people with the innermost passion to achieve.
On the 19th of September, I visited the NAD Headquarters. I had a tour of the facilities and learned how NAD works and visited with the staff there. From what Iâ€™ve learned, the NAD is indeed consumed by passion. Their passion is unmistakable. Needless to say, my visit to the NADâ€™s headquarters were very inspiring, and overwhelming, learning what NAD has to offer, as they have the wealth of information relating to: history, Deaf rights, advocacy, youth programs, information for the community to start their own programs, and many more! Jennifer Yost Ortiz, Youth Program Coordinator and I went out for a lunch to discuss my next two years as Miss Deaf America.
Jennifer chose the place to eat- a Thai restaurant. It was a struggle for me to get used to international food like Thai. Jennifer had me to try spring rolls, which to a Midwestern gal, is an unique flavored version of egg roll. But, you have to understand where I come from, as the only egg roll that I get is from Schwannâ€™s frozen entrÃ©e, or even from Chinese fast food restaurant in town near my home (which is an hour away). So, Iâ€™m slowly becoming a well-rounded person, a cultured person when it comes to food. But, Iâ€™m still sticking to my South Dakota approved beef, supporting my dadâ€™s business!
Every time I fly for Miss Deaf America travel, my journey is always filled with stories to share! My flight to Wisconsin, for my first engagement: series of presentations, storytelling, talent performances, and appearances, wasnâ€™t any different. In fact, when I boarded the plane from Minneapolis to Milwaukee, I sat by a gentleman who started chatting with me for an hour. It just so happened that his thesis while he was in college was based on Dr. Seussâ€™ life! I decided that it was time to add to the irony of the evening to mention that my talent is also from Dr. Seussâ€™ books! From chatting with that gentleman, I realized that everyone has passion to accomplish something in their lives; itâ€™s up to us to find out what it is!
On Thursday night, I arrived at the Milwaukee airport at midnight, and met with my host for the weekend, Denise Johnson. I was dropped off at the hotel near Wisconsin School for the Deaf where my next dayâ€™s presentation and talent performance would take place.
On Friday morning, I spoke at the Wisconsin School for the Deaf and Milwaukee Sign Language School in the morning. I also performed my talent at both schools, as well. My costume attracted the childrenâ€™s attention.
Presenting my story at the DAW Festival.
I was warmly welcomed by the staff at both schools. The students were curious about how I became Miss Deaf America, and how I handled college while being Miss Deaf America, as well! (I am still learning to this day!) My message to the students was summed up in these points: seizing every opportunity while taking yourself out of your comfort zone and do something that you donâ€™t want to do every day! To do something that you donâ€™t want to do, every day is what Mark Twain believed. I excerpted his quote for my presentation.
On Friday afternoon, I toured the Water Tower View (WTV) in Greenfield with Katie Voss and learned that it was designed specifically for the Deaf residents and it was established a year ago. The facilities were designed to accommodate the needs of the residents. If youâ€™re in the area, ensure to stop by for a tour!
I also attended a workshop hosted by the Wisconsin Chapter of the Gallaudet University Alumni Association. They invited Trudy Suggs from Minnesota to present â€œOOPS! I Didnâ€™t Mean That.â€Â It was entertaining to participate in the workshop along with others and to discuss Deaf and hearing culture and to debate whether DeafÂ people are more severely addicted to pagers than the hearing people. (I second this argument, as it is very evident on Gallaudet campus!) There were many different kinds of discussions about Deaf vs. Hearing culture!
Saturday, I put my crown back on and attended the first annual Wisconsin Deaf Awareness Festival. I told stories about the overall experiences of being Miss Deaf America in storytelling time with the children. I met many different kinds of people all with different passions for their career. For example, I met Ricky Smith, a professional Deaf mime for over thirty years! It is evident that he truly enjoyed his choice of career, when he put his make up and he turned into a completely different person. (Iâ€™m embarrassed to admit that I was used to seeing him in makeup, and when he came out after washing his face and wore street clothes, I had to do a double take!)
After the day at Deaf Awareness Week Festival, the committee went out to eat supper. It was my goal for the entire trip to taste the infamous Wisconsin cheese, however, I didnâ€™t have much time to stop and get some. It turned out that the restaurant they chose had Wisconsin cheese soup! So, of course I ordered that after the committee convinced me!
So, I can say that Iâ€™ve tasted the infamous Wisconsin cheese!
Arrived back to east coast from a nice â€œMidwestern breakâ€ in Wisconsin and got back into the daily grind of being student at Gallaudet!
Thank you Wisconsin Association for the Deaf for inviting me up for quite an adventure!
Cat and I appreciated Denise’s hospitality over the weekend. Thank you from both of us! Oh, keeping ourselves busy and having fun over the weekend is the best!