I spent a fun afternoon today with a group of 5th graders at the American International School in Ho Chi Minh City. The students are currently studying human rights issues around the world, including how different governments approach support for their disabled citizens. A friend of mine who is a counselor here invited me to come talk to the children about deafness and the Global Foundation’s work.

I had a great time engaging the students in conversation about how we learn language and communicate. We talked about the value of the investment of early intervention to the individual, the family, and to society at large. We had discussion about who should cover the cost of hearing aids and education support services for the deaf and hard of hearing.

They asked me what was difficult about being hard of hearing. I shared that hearing loss has its positives and negatives. I’m a good lipreader and that always provides a measure of entertainment when eavesdropping, so to speak, on conversations across roooms in restaurants and parties. I hated how my teachers made me sit in the front of classrooms when I really wanted to sit in the back where all my friends were. And yet, I sure can sleep well in any hotel room around the world, even if its next to a freeway or the elevator. So,you take the good with the bad and make the best of whatever life deals you. They seemed to get a kick out of that.

They had watched the Global Foundation’s video on our website before I arrived and were prepared with lots of really great questions. They asked about the intricities of our work, the children and families we serve, and the nuances of our training programs. My favorite bit of dialogue was with one inquisitive, bright girl who asked me what my favorite thing was about being the director of the foundation. I said it was seeing the direct impact of our efforts on specific children, that there is no better feeling that being able to help make a difference in someone’s life. She took that in, pondered a bit, and then announced, “I am going to help people too.” You go, girl.