Hi, I’m Rachel and I want to share some of my journey on how I found my Deaf identity.
It started here at this place in Napier, Hawkes Bay at the Deaf Unit in Onekawa School. If you see the classrooms here on my right, that is where Deaf children went, hearing children went to the classrooms on my left. When I started school it was here at the Deaf Unit with Deaf children. Over time I started to go to some classes in the hearing school, I would jump from side to side. I always knew that Deaf kids were in one area while hearing kids were on the other side but I didn’t really think about it. It seemed to be normal.
When I finished school here my family moved to Wellington. I went to a new school where everyone was hearing. I was the only Deaf person there. It felt different. I had a Teacher of the Deaf come and visit me. Remember when I was in this (Onekawa) school all the Teachers of the Deaf were here. In a mainstream school they come to visit regularly. I came to realise I was different from the others in some way but had no idea how or why. I would think about it. I would think in bed, at night, in the morning, I would think about why I am the same and different. I would think about Onekawa School where I was the same as the Deaf kids here and I could related to them. At the mainstream school the students were different. With more thinking, I realised I’m Deaf, I am not hearing. I am Deaf like the kids here. That was when I started to explore my Deaf identity. More things happened in other times that made me more and more aware of my Deaf identity. I’ll share more with you later.