Coming from a small town in Wisconsin, I was used to being the only deaf person my age on campus. I was ecstatic then, when I discovered, upon arrival in Washington, D.C. that the two lovely ladies I am living with for the next two months are also deaf. As a result, my first week in D.C. really reflects my experience as a deaf individual in a city known for its deaf community and home to Gallaudet University. Having been raised in the hearing world with a family that doesn't know sign language, it was a liberating experience for me to be able to converse without using my voice. I also didn't have to worry about pestering my landlord to put in ONE strobe fire-alarm as the suite we have been placed in already had one in each room. We were also supplied a doorbell with light flashes, which I had never used in the past, but already see the benefits of such a mechanism. Even the flashing lights warning passengers of an approaching train or of closing doors has been a positive experience for me when navigating the city's metrorail.
Living and working in D.C. for the summer has already provided me with great networking opportunities, especially within the deaf community, There are four deaf individuals in the AAPD internship program this summer and all but one of us have a deaf mentor. I have been placed with Seth Bravin, who has been employed at IBM for at least 8 years. With both of us having backgrounds in Economics and family in Wisconsin, it was a great fit and I look forward to our future meetings. I also had the fortunate chance to attend Deaf Night Out, which was a great networking experience for me as I had never been in a room with so many individuals like myself. Another intern also attended despite not knowing ASL, but found it to be a wonderful means to expose himself to the culture that centers around the deaf community. In my experience, I have found that even standing in line for food at a restaurant will provide one with such networking prospects. In the end it really is a small world and you never know when life's opportunities will present itself to you.