Monday, June 11, 2012

First Friends

Looking back at my first post, I laugh about what a stuffy-pants I can be. When assigned to write our blogs, the only parameters were to save political campaigning for happy hour, to not divulge sensitive matters of national security (as if anyone would ever trust us with any!) and to, in general, try not to embarrass AAPD or the people we work for. In other words, we can write about ANYTHING WE WANT TO. And what do I do? I start writing a lovely, boring expositional piece, explaining the AAPD program, identifying its essential elements, arguing why they are essential… Blah blah blah. It's not that my words were not sincere, but what I really wanted to write about were my new friends. However, the intense, university-trained taskmaster (think Prof. Snape) who reigns in my right brain thinks that I can only do so if I use an evidence-based argument to demonstrate why my peers are an essential element of a larger phenomenon of interest. Ugh! Someone, please go get Elton John to slap me in the face with a big, loud, sequined piece of fun.

So… The first person I met from my summer program was Allie , one of my roommates. I arrived in Foggy Bottom around midnight, and she was still up. I do not know what supreme powers had a hand in our assignment to the same apartment, but they must be on my team. Within seconds of meeting Allie, I could tell that she is a bright, thoughtful person and that we were going to become good friends. She introduced me to two other people from our program, and the four of us, internal clocks still set to California time, went on a foray to CVS. All three of my new friends have quite a lot of experience with disability-related advocacy and quite a lot to say about it. As we navigated this unfamiliar city, they discussed the issues that interest them the most, the challenges they face and the solutions that they have imagined. They talked about their disabilities openly, as legitimate, essential pieces of their being, and they asked me about mine. People ask me about my disability often, and while I am willing to respond in order to better educate others, I do not enjoy discussing it. However, with these new friends it was a different. They were asking not because they wanted to know what was wrong with me, but because they wanted to know who I am and what my life is like. They did not remain awkwardly silent when I was finished, they did not insist that they knew what would cure me, they did not tell me that a positive attitude will fix everything. Instead, they validated me, they brainstormed creative solutions for some of my daily challenges and discussed ways in which we, as a group of individuals with disabilities, can work together to organize our community and make our society more inclusive. I could not have asked for a better group of people or a better first night in DC.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Commenters must avoid profanity, harsh language and disparaging remarks on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation or disability. All comments to the blog are moderated by AAPD, and can be subject to removal at any time.

Please use the comments section to engage in the ongoing dialogue between our program funders, current and former interns, our colleagues, and the broader disability community, and to respond to intern posts that intrigue you, to share your own stories, or to simply express your gratitude for being allowed into the world of our summer interns.