By Zoe Ferguson
Recently Jemma and I and our leader, Candice went to America for the World Federation of the Deaf Youth Section Children’s Camp. For me it all started from Drisana Levitzke-Gray and Mark Berry, they inspired and encouraged me to go to Gallaudet for the camp, so I applied……but even better then I got to go with my friend Jemma!
I was very proud to be representing New Zealand. One year after I had thought about the camp, applied and fundraised then we were on the plane and ready to go! We went to New York for two days, it was so much fun! This was one of my dream places to visit. We went to some famous places and it felt weird because I realised that Manhattan is an island that so full of buildings and I couldn’t even see the sun! But it was AWESOME!!!
After New York we flew to Washington DC. The plane ride was so bumpy! The flight is similar to the flight from Auckland to Christchurch.
When we arrived at Gallaudet University, it was out first time being there and I was shocked at how it is so HUGE! So much bigger than I expected.
On the first day I met some new Deaf friends, they were all so lovely. We all became best friends. My closest new friend from camp is Isabella, she is from Sweden. We still keep in touch on WhatsApp.
We did lots of activities on the camp such as: mini-Olympics, tour of the Smithsonian National Zoo, tour of the city of Washington DC and a surprise trip that was a visit to a massive Baseball stadium to watch a game between Washington vs New York Mets.
We had a tour around the Capitol building by Deaf people that work there! There are about 5 Deaf interns there, some of them were graduates from Gallaudet University! This is an amazing building and inside there are lots of statues of famous presidents. There is also a statue of Helen Keller, this is only statue that you are allowed to touch – this is because she was Deaf Blind and touching was so important to her for information.
We had a tour all around Gallaudet. We were all out into different groups for the week and each group had a name that was from a strong Deaf leader in history. I was in the group ‘Clerc’ this is from Laurent Clerc the Deaf man that went to USA with Thomas Gallaudet to set up the first American Deaf school!
Our dorm was called Ballard West it was awesome. It is built so you can see everything that is happening around you. So good for Deaf
During the day we had workshops from the WFDYS and Deaf Youth USA leaders. We had workshops on Human Rights, the leaders did some plays to show us different things and we had to think about what human rights means. I learned that Human Rights for me means making the world value Deaf people and treating us as equals to hearing people.
We had a workshop on bullying: we talked about bullies and what we should do to stop them. We did an awesome activity where we were in groups and we had to draw a nice and happy person on the paper and then each group swaps their papers. When our group got the new person we had to write lots of negative and bullying comments on the person, then we screwed the paper up and gave it back. When we got our picture back, we had to open it up and it was all creased and damaged, this showed that when we are bullied we can have scars left on our heart but we can be strong and move on. It made us think about how bullying feels and how we need to think about that.
I loved being at Gallaudet, I met so many awesome people and I miss them so much. This was the most amazing week ever and I am so thankful to everyone in NZ for helping make my dream come true! I will go back to Gallaudet one day and I will see my friends from all the world again one day.