It all started nearly 14 years ago. I was one of New Zealand’s first cochlear Implantee’s back in 1993. In fact there was very little information about Cochlear implants on the web back then. As editor of New Zealand’s cochlear implant newsletter I was always looking for articles, and searching on the internet for them.
So it only goes to show that eventually my searches found the Say What? Club by way of one of the founders – Bobdeafie. He invited me to join the group, so I did. Next thing I knew I was getting lots of emails from people from all over the world who were like me – hearing impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, cochlear implant would be’s etc…
Over the years, I’ve made many friends through this group – some lifelong. I’ve headbutted with a few, cried along with them, and had many many laughs. It’s the laughter that keeps this group together, the sheer joy of laughing about things that happen to people, and knowing because of your hearing loss, it’s either happened to you too, or could quite likely happen. It’s a group that puts our hearing loss into perspective, helps us when things get bad and you’re down because of it, opens your eyes to the many devices that are out there to help us, and simply gives us a sense of belonging. Coming home.
It must be pretty good as 14 years later the SWC is still a huge part of my life.
One of the most exciting things about the SWC is the people I’ve met. First came Bob and Ling who came and stayed with me any years ago, then Joanie from New York, then Steven from San Francisco. I met up with Rick in Australia, and Emily from New Jersey has been out here several times now. And just yesterday, Jeff and his daughter was in Auckland for the day so I was able to show them around.
Last year I won the SWC Scholarship which enabled me to travel out to meet up with so many at the Philadelphia Convention. It was a really special time putting faces to the names I’ve been corresponding with via email for 15 years. One of the most exciting things to happen to me in my life. I came home to New Zealand, with some great memories, ones that I’ll keep forever.
The SWC opens up the world as well. Not only do we have people in America, but also Australia, New Zealand, England, Finland, India, Canada, and South Africa. We learn about different countries and cultures, and we know if we’re ever travelling in those parts of the world, there is a friendly face waiting for us to meet them.
I would recommend SWC to anyone who is wanting to find out about hearing loss, or just wants to ‘hang out’ with people who you know will understand the frustrations that we come across in our every day lives when one’s hearing isn’t 100% perfect.
For more details… Head to… http://www.saywhatclub.com/
I look forward to getting to know you !