Did you know that I am a university graduate? It took me ten years, many long hours, lots of coffee, interpreters some good some bad, a couple of all-nighters, more coffee, dorm-life, free gym, late nights at the university library; my favourite being Sundays, and being the only Deaf-Blind student, and only ASL using student, but I did it! I successfully graduated Simon Fraser University (SFU), in Burnaby, Canada in Spring of 2000!
I started College in 1990, or something like that, with a goal to get into university. Sure Douglas College in New Westminster, BC, had a many Deaf students, some of whom are still on my friends list, but I wanted to go further. I wanted a BA in Psychology. So, I was at Dougie Daycare, as my brother eloquently, comically, called it, for upwards 4 years. I passed all the required psych courses for university credit at the college-level, which proved a bit easier, university-level Psychology statistics course is, reputably, much tougher!
With, I recall, one course left before I could transfer to University, I made an appointment with SFU’s Disability Services department. The woman I saw was super friendly, knowledgeable, multitasking, there were at least five or six other services offered within her scope of duties; including, Woman’s Services, Indian Services. This was the 90’s, the era of many duties for one person, recession I think it was!
We spent the next hour discussing what services the university could offer, note taker, tutor, CCTV. This conversation was mostly verbal, me talking and she either speaking or writing her comments down. When I broached the subject of interpreters and that I required them, her reply was “Oh, we can’t do that…” or “We don’t have the money for that…” or some other No catchphrase so ubiquitous during the 1990s. Of course, I had no intention of accepting her No. I replied, as I headed out the door, “Well, you better find the money, because I am coming. I will be here.”
A few weeks later, she contacted me and invited me back to the University. I arrived, and was shocked to see my good friend, Leona, there as well! Leona was a dynamic interpreter who sadly passed away too soon. The Disability Services admin informed me of some good news! The university had found some money and hired me a team of interpreters! I was excited! My dream had become reality…
So, back at Dougie Daycare, I finished my last course, and with no fanfare I transferred up to SFU… But the struggle had just begun!
For the next 6 years I worked my ass off, learning this and that, that and this, caffeinated, motivated, appreciated, learned new jargon, new things, lived in the dorm, tried to make some friends, but couldn’t communicate other than writing, during orientation, I had my friend, an interpreter student come up and provide interpretation for me…. The university was specific that interpreters for classes and labs only, not for other things; meeting with prof, not for library work, study groups, socializing, tutoring, nope nope… only for class… Okay…
I will, eventually, bore you with some specific details of my tenure at university, the barriers and struggles… That will come another day…
I wanted to give you a short look at the struggles I had, and, yes, the loneliness, that I endured in my quest to attain a Bachelors of Arts degree in Psychology. During my final semester, or the one before,, I planted a seed of excitement; I would reward myself by going on a long holiday! This I was what I want to do for a long time! To go to Europe! During my last semester, I planned, and saved money, bought airfare, train tickets and hostel accommodations! I was going to Europe!
I left for London sometime 20 years ago, this week! I did write it all down, and then put it on my computer, my daily journal of my entire trip. I saved it somewhere, and put it on a 5.25 floppy disk, and that disk vanished! Or was destroyed! Damn!
What I am starting now, I am going to bore, I mean blog my trip from my memory! It might be sketchy, but I am going to do my best! These blogs will be titled This Week in Craig History with where I’m at. This Week in Craig History, getting to the airport would be the first title!
And that was a wild night! My flight was leaving at 6 AM, I had to be there at 4, remember this was June of 2000, 15 months before 9/11, so flying was easier, security was strict, but you could take you outside drink past security!
Getting to the point, that night, my mom offered to drive me to the airport, because she wanted to make sure I got there. She was to pick me up at 4AM, I was living on my own BTW. Mom arrived at my apartment building, rang the code for my apartment, but I did not respond! She walked around back to my first floor apartment and saw my lights on, and tried to get in… My good friend had informed me to try to stay awake for longer so that I was on Europe time before I flew! But I had fallen asleep on my dining room table! My poor mum was outside! Luckily I woke up somehow, saw the clock and gasped, rushed out front to see my mum there a bit anxious but not mad… this was way before cell phones and text messages! Mum took my apartment keys and made copies of them! We zoomed to the airport, luckily again I was not late…
And tomorrow, or the next day, I’ll fill you in on my London adventures!