Many people ask me:
"Why did you create the No Barriers Deaf Leading the Way expeditions?
Here is a powerful letter from a teenager on our Peru trip...
October 27, 2015
Hello, my name is Bobby. You helped me attend a trip to experience Peruvian deaf culture, and I wanted to tell you how grateful I am for this! The driving factor in my transformation from a socially-awkward, unmotivated, and unhappy person into what I am today is the collection of experiences I have shared with No Barriers.
Born deaf, I received cochlear implants and placed in a deaf schooling system. I felt that the education I was receiving at the time was not adequate enough for me, so I eventually transferred into mainstream schools. Here, I developed a strong sense of curiosity and thirst for knowledge. However, I was unable to fit in with my peers. While some peers scrutinized my disability, the majority of the low self-esteem and lack of confidence I experienced stemmed from myself. I fell into a pit of isolation from both others and academic resources available at my fingertips. I had absolutely no friends in school and I eventually lost motivation to learn and excel. Hearing loss had been the thing that destroyed my life; it was a curse.
When I came across No Barriers, I was fascinated by the opportunity to travel and see new places. Little did I know, this would be far more than a vacation. During my time in Peru, I saw some of the world’s most beautiful creations, I made a new family, I was immersed in astonishing culture, and much more. I also got to see the darker parts of Peruvian culture. Up until my trip, I was oblivious to the lack of deaf support systems in Peru. I got to meet Dante, a 12 year old deaf boy adopted by an American woman, Holly. Dante is also deaf and attends a school called San Fransico De Asis in Cusco. San Fransico De Asis is a school for the deaf, but like many others, still lacked adequate accommodations for the students. The teachers are not trained in Sign Language, there are absolutely no established differences from the education a hearing person would receive. This truly put Dante at a disadvantage.
As I before mentioned, I am now in college. The expedition to Peru actually ended the day before I moved into college! The timing of this experience could not have come to me at a better time. I was able to learn so much right before the prime years of my life. Rochester Institute of Technology also has a large deaf population, so I was able to educate many of them on the systems I witnessed in Peru. Many of my peers expressed their interest in raising awareness and helping those in need.
I believe that meeting the deaf students in Peru not only helped me, but them too. They were able to teach me about their ways of life while we taught them how we live as deaf students in America. Many of the students told us how they wanted to thrive as much as we did. They were inspired as much as we were. Without meeting each other, we would not have had the drives we have now. Dante is actually coming to America in December to look at deaf schools in Texas with his mother, Holly!
Being exposed to such a wide array of new experiences has opened my mind to an endless amount of possibilities. Before my No Barriers experience, I did not know, or even question my full potential. Now, I know that there are truly no limits on what I can do as long as I step to the plate. My life has literally changed thanks to your help. I have more happiness, confidence, and success than I have ever had before. I now know that I want to pursue a life in education and motivation. I want to help others overcome the barriers I have had to face in my life. I have absolutely no doubt that I can accomplish any task I attempt. I would not have been able to partake in the Peru expedition if it was not for your help. I would not have been who I am today without your help. I have an undying gratitude for your generosity and I truly hope you know that you have helped change a life.