Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Joe and Olivia (Vision)

There is nothing more inspiring to me than a senior's pure, honest voice…well, maybe just one thing. When that voice reaches the ears of a teen, and she starts to speak out loud, too.

Last week, 17-year-old Olivia and her 15-year-old friend Shi came to our class during their spring break. When Joe needed help handwriting his story, Olivia listened, wrote and read it loud for him. After class, the girls stuck around and took a million photos with the seniors. We all had so much fun. Then after going home, Olivia wrote and sent me her reflections below. Vision. That word has just taken on layer after layer of new meaning.

Joe Garrison

One afternoon I was getting on a bus, waiting for a seat when some well-meaning person offered to take me to a seat.  However, he sat me on someone’s lap.  I was embarrassed and the person I sat on was angry.  I in turn was angry at the person who supposedly was trying to help me.  I could smell alcohol on his breath.  He said to me, “What are you arguing with me about?  You can’t even see!”

Another incident was when someone asked me if I wished I could see.  The moral of the story is I don't have physical sight, but I believe I can see.  If I am in your presence or I experience being with you, then I see you.  If I understand what you are telling me, then I see.  To see means to understand.  Movies and television are just as enjoyable to me as they are to you.

Olivia S. Brown

I’m used to hearing stories about “a party last night”, the “latest school gossip”, or what’s “hot” and what’s “not”, but I rarely get to sit and hear stories as simple, but inspiring, as those shared with me during my recent visit to Philadelphia Senior Center.

One may get to hear stories similar to those I heard last week every now and then in a blog, article or documentary, but there was something special in hearing them first-hand—from people sitting right across from you set in a backdrop of so many unique personalities and characters.
I was most inspired by the stories told to me by the visually impaired in the room.  They appeared to look at things from ways no one else could see.  Although they were blind, I discovered that I was the one who couldn’t see after I was enlightened by their insight. 

Overall I left the meeting thinking I need more people like them in my life.