Hello, my name is Rachel and my sign name is …. I was born Deaf and grew up Deaf. When I was three, I moved to Nelson from Greymouth. We moved because there was a playgroup with Deaf children in Nelson so I became involved with that. In there we learnt TC (signed English), we were strong with using TC. I grew up with it.
We had a Christmas party; all the Deaf children came together over at Rabbit Island. We mixed together, played games and had a lot of fun. Father Christmas came, that was really exciting – I pulled his beard! Ha ha, there was a man there! it was a good way for a group of Deaf children to connect with each other as a group.
When I was 15 and a half, I went to van Asch Deaf Education Centre. That was big, whoa! I was seeing NZ sign language plus I could see Deaf culture around me. Plus I learnt about Deaf Culture there at Van Asch. I was so interested, taking it all in and learning as much as I could.
Plus, I also got involved with Deaf sports and met more Deaf adults. I was seeing and learning more and more. And I went to Deaf club for the first time in Christchurch.
Later I wanted to go to Deaf Studies at Victoria University. I wanted to learn more. When they started to teach about Deaf identity I really looked into myself, wow, I saw these things about me that were related to my identity. I learnt a bit about Deaf culture at Van Asch but here I learnt so much more about my Deaf identity. After that I became more involved with the Deaf community from then on.