This year is full of learning, and this story involves lots of learning.
At Cheshire Home, we have an economic empowerment program, a piece of which is our bakery classes. We take in new batches (get it? bakery... batches...) of individuals, either persons with disabilities or single mothers, each year and at the end of their training, they receive a pastry skills certificate and are able to enter the workforce. This new batch of bakery students are all people who are deaf or have hearing impairments. A piece of the YAGM's job each year has been to teach the bakery students english. When I was told about this a few weeks ago, I felt pretty intimidated. Teaching deaf, sign language students who know Malay, english sounded like a feat. I've been on the lookout for resources since this assignment, with some luck. I've been learning some sign language, trying to bridge the multiple language barriers as best as I can.
This week, we have had a volunteer at Cheshire Home from Girl's Brigade, where I also spend some of my time. She has been awesome, and has jumped right in spending time with the residents and helping out where she is needed. We both have been learning sign language together from one of the bakery srudents, Haifez. Today, I needed to do an english assessment with Haifez to see what he knew already, to help me try to gauge where to begin. Both his Malay and English written assessments had some challenges. After I was finished, our volunteer asked for a piece of paper and said she was going to work on teaching Haifez English and Malay. I gave it to her, skeptical of what could be done spur of the moment and in one afternoon. I went into the office to continue my research on how to teach english to people who are deaf. I researched without much luck, and emerged from the office to find Haifez spelling through sign language and on paper colors, shapes, and question words in english. I was pretty impressed, as well as humbled.
A lesson I've learned about myself this year is how badly I want to know what I am doing before I begin. New flash to myself and the rest of the world: I have absolutely no idea what I am doing this year. I can research all I want, I can try to plan all I want, but until I actually go and try, I will never fail, succeed, or learn. Which is far more easily said than done, but I am incredibly thankful for the teachers in my life this year, like high school volunteers, who remind me that the effort is what matters. That just by trying, something will happen. If you see a need, go for it. Just researching doesn't change a thing, but acting does.