We arrived at the center at 7:30 this morning to a large group of families waiting for us. Little girls in brightly colored dresses and boys in neatly pressed pants played with each other in the school yard while their moms and dads sat with tired eyes on benches under the eaves. Many had arrived hours earlier, some after traveling all night, to be here today to receive new hearing aids for their children. We had a schedule of appointments and previously assured these families that they would be given hearing aids, but they came early anyway.

By the end of the memorable day, we fit 15 children with hearing aids. For some, it was their first pair, including a cute 18 month old boy with a moderate to severe hearing loss. His face lit up when we turned on the aids and he responded immediately to sounds. Others had hearing aids in the past that were damaged or needed replacing. Many had hearing aids on loan from their schools and the families wished to have their own pair. All of these children were from low-income families that didn’t have the means to secure hearing aids.

Our audiology program participants were paired up with each family and went through the entire cycle with them –hearing testing, hearing aid fitting, and consultation — with the oversight of our professionals. It was a wonderful opportunity for them to practice what they had learned in our program in a real-world setting with families. By the end, our students were doing much of the work themselves, their confidence had greatly increased.

We take careful records of each child that receives a hearing aid from the Global Foundation. All of the families we saw today come from schools in our Deaf Education Program with teachers and therapists enrolled in our training programs. So, we will be able to monitor their progress over time.

While the hearing aid fitting was taking place, the teachers in our teacher training program were engaged in lecture and an interactive breakout session about behavior management. We also had a special breakout session where a camera was set up in a few of our family consultation sessions. With the families’ permission, the teachers observed Hillary Ganek as she conducted the family therapy sessions from another room. It was an opportunity for the teachers to see how therapy sessions might occur and talk as a group as to what they saw and learned.

Last night, one of the participants in our audiology program treated our team and the audiology participants to a special dinner at a local restaurant. The food was wonderful and the company a lot of fun. It wasn’t long before the Vietnamese and Americans started up a competition to see how many children’s songs we knew…for the next hour or so we sang back and forth until finally the Americans started to run out of ideas. The Vietnamese kept going strong….completely outdoing us in the song department. We finally waved white napkins in surrender, humbled but loving every second of the experience too!