Thursday, December 20, 2007


First of all, I would like to thank all members of the yahoo support groups Pediatric Cochlear Implant Circle, Listen-UP and Learn2Hear for their comments and love in response to our announcement about RALLY CAPS being published in Italian, they were GREATLY appreciated!
Now, everyone knows that I love Rachel Chaikof, because she is just the primary example of where I want my son to be at age 20: in college, independent, eloquent, confident and of course...a world traveler. When I was 20, I road-tripped to Key West for Spring Break with my best friend Julie. We drove 24 hours, slept nine in a room and shared the floor with some ugly cockroaches...but THAT is what being young and drunk at Spring Break is all about. I want my son to experience crazy stuff like this, but will it be possible for him to travel and handle problems that may potentially arise? Get a load of Rachel's trip to France...(as told by her mom Melissa (see her comment on the Supermoms post):

Here's a story that is a real testament to how necessary the ability to hear
and speak are to be truly independent in the hearing world. As I had
written before, Rachel was in France. She was volunteering with an
organization called Volunteers for Peace.
The organization is affiliated
with UNESCO and recommended by the Princeton Review, and so it looked pretty
good. According to their write-up, she was supposed to be working with
kids, with people with disabilities, helping out in the fields on the farm,
etc. Unfortunately, it turned out that the woman who ran the farm was very
nasty. She was constantly yelling at the volunteers but especially Rachel
as she apparently does not like Americans. In addition, rather than
activities to help promote peace, she had the girls doing nothing but
cooking and cleaning the house. Rachel tried to speak to her about the
situation as she was the only one who spoke French and could communicate
with the woman, but the woman only got nastier. *There were two other volunteers with her for the week, both from Korea. The Koreans spoke English but not French. The leader spoke French but not English. So, my deaf daughter, whom the experts told me 20 years ago would probably never speak English well, acted as the translator between the leader and the Korean girls since she's fluent in both languages.*

NOTE: Rachel didn't start studying French until the second semester of her 9th grade year. Her high school was on a semester system, which enabled her
after taking French every semester to study through French 5 followed by a
full year of AP French her senior year and a semester of French in college.
Plus, she went on two exchange programs to France and then spent 3 weeks
there with her French friends last summer as well and has maintained email
and written communication in French with a couple of French pen pals since
9th grade as well.

...Rachel had spent $250 of her own money plus her frequent flyer mileage and
my parents' to get there, and so she wanted to try to salvage some of the
trip. Therefore, she opted to leave the farm and make her way to Bayonne,
France, where she has some very close friends and which is at the opposite
end of the country from where she was in the middle of rural France outside
of Marseilles. She got a ride to the bus stop in the little town near where
she was. She knew that she needed to get to the train station in Marseilles
but didn't know anything more than that. In French, she asked two high
school students at the bus stop how to get there. They were very nice and
sat on the bus with her, showing her where to get off and telling her which
bus to transfer to. When she got off the second bus, she asked the bus
driver in French how to get to the train station.
He told her how to get
there. She walked a few blocks to the train station and asked in French at
the station how to get to Bayonne. This entailed taking two trains for a
total of 7 hours, transferring in Bordeaux. Throughout all of this, she was
in constant touch with me and with her friends in Bayonne via cell phone.
cannot imagine what she would have done had she not been able to communicate
as well as she can. She certainly would have been stuck at the farm for the
full 2 and a half weeks. Also, being able to speak to her throughout this
ordeal certainly kept me from being one basketcase of a totally anxious mom.
All's well that ends well as she's back home tonight safe and sound, having
enjoyed the last part of her trip much more than the first. Oh, one more
thing - If anyone knows of any great organizations that run volunteer
programs in Europe for college students, we'd love to hear about them
because she will be there again this summer and has about three weeks to
fill before starting her semester abroad in France in September, and she's
certainly not going through Volunteers for Peace again!


Remember Rachel??


Anonymous said...

Hahaha...I know you have been watching me through a crystal ball! My mom told me throughout my trip that you have been close in touch with her about my incredible adventures! Also, thank you for invitation to your home this week! That was so sweet of you. I would have loved to come, but changing my transportation plans was just too difficult. At least I'll be there next summer! Whoo hooooo! Also, I'm writing all of my adventures on my blog now. So, look for that in a few minutes!

Abbie said...

Ahh, I love reading about this. I can relate to driving long hours and sleeping in strange places and waking up to people of different accents but because I could lipread, I did better then my hearing friends. It was crazy :)