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Deaf Identities in the Making:
Local Lives, Transnational Connections|
My state of confusion was also a result of my upbringing and school experiences. Without having accepted my deafness, I didn’t feel at home in the deaf world. Without the ability to hear/speak well enough, I couldn’t manage to be a full part of the hard of hearing milieu either. The hard of hearing persons I met at school also thought bad about deaf persons. As they told me: “The deaf cannot do anything, not even speak!” Of course I was frightened, and would not be identified with such people. But when I was together with deaf persons, I felt more relaxed. However, at the age of thirteen, I was not able to choose the right thing, and I was certainly not going to accept the label “stupid.”
Her fear of being regarded as stupid thus contributed to her too-long stay in the “pretenders club,” and in secondary school, she clearly suffered from both boredom and social exclusion:
She then realized that her previous choice was a misguided one, as misguided as her identity orientation. With her renewed sense of Deaf identity, she was ready to re-educate in order to find work in a signing environment where she could feel more at ease. The new workplace that she had been thinking of was a nursing home for old deaf people. She therefore started studying at the nursing school to qualify for the position.
However, she was far from being servile and she tells about how she regularly quarreled with the teachers. Here she tells about “a funny, but serious” instance:
However, the teacher was not able to cope with the situation or to see it from her point of view. Her fellow students had similar problems with her. In one of the students’ colloquial sessions, she refused to use the interpreter when five to six students talked at the same time. It was simply impossible to translate such events. Then she tried to tell them what it was like to be deaf and about sign language and Deaf culture. It helped a little bit, but she also realized that “it is not easy for them to understand us.” Her college life was thus quite restricted, and her social life was quite hampered: