Saturday, May 28, 2011

First Post from Policastro

Week of 22nd of May, 2011
AAPD Internship Class
Steven Policastro

This week during the AAPD Internship Orientation, has been a great time to do so many various things, and has been such a tremendously great and exciting learning curve. In that past week I have had to learn more about the big city, remember people’s names and their short biographies, and acquire a new language skill in learning the alphabet in American Sign Language.

Overall this week has been one that I will never forget, I have had the opportunity to make lifelong friends, and learn lifelong lessons – especially about living in a big city! The culture shock of coming from a town of 11,000 people the nation’s capitol was a bit overwhelming at first; having to learn the various ways in which the streets where ordered, how to use The Metro (which I still do not understand completely), and how to interact with the people – which is much different than the smiles and conversations in The South... here it is usually just a brush of shoulders, and maybe every one in one hundred people someone will say “I don’t have time.” But, that is for the every-day person who live in The District, I would have to say for every single person in the 2011 AAPD internship class, it is a great group of people who are so willing to just sit and talk.

I am very thankful that this past week I have been able to learn a little bit more about how people with disabilities, like myself, see themselves – I find it most interesting in the community that people identify with their disability, as this is something completely foreign to me. Whilst I do see myself as someone with a disability, legally blind/visually impaired, I have never let such a trait be my identity – yet coming here, everyone embrace their disability as their identity which I believe is a very interesting way of seeing one’s self; and important to many people’s advocacy efforts. As I am one to recognize I have a disability and do not identify with it or claim it as my identity, this may be foreign to some... therefore I would like to explain just for a moment.

Being raised in The Deep South, first off we do not have all the governmental services in which many people throughout The North do; therefore, where the government fails or there may be mistrust from officials, the church (Christian) pickup the shortcomings of the government – in everything from schooling to healthcare. The cultures are totally different, at least in the less urban city-centers. I was raised in a the Lutheran school system in Mid-Florida, having the chance to take advantage of what the church offered from four years of age in Pre-School to twelfth grade, from whence I attended Stetson University (a private post-Baptist/current-agnostic university). While I am a conservative Christian, attending Stetson, was my choice of universities... not because of it’s Christian affiliation, but due to the fact I felt led, by The Lord, to attend and it has opened up to be an enormous mission field – as well as having me meet the people who I know attend church with. Thus, I identify as a Christian alone – not any other identity, but that of my Lord and Savior Christ Jesus.

To myself, it is just so interesting to see the contrasts of The South and The North; I had thought of them only to be religious – but as I see now, religion crosses so many lines... even into the disability community. I am very excited to share my own stories and listen to others, as we learn from one another’s cultural upbringings.

For The Lord Alone,
Steven Policastro

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