|Christy Smith at the Rehabilitation Center for Children in Kolkata, India|
As you read in our blog of India, one of our days in Kolkata was spent at the Rehabilitation Center for Children where we worked on a scroll panel with the kids after watching and listening to the work of the artist, Karuna. Also in attendance were several deaf young adults from a nearby school. Working with them was an American volunteer Christy Smith, also deaf. At first meeting it would be difficult to know that Christy is deaf as she speaks as well as signs and is an easy conversationalist. Christy also came with us to Prayrona 2 when we handed off our digital cameras to kids from the school to photograph their 'world' in the in the Dakshindari slum. Sitting side-by-side in our rented truck, Christy had spoken to us a little about her work and her plans to go back to South America. She and I talked briefly about the difficulty of traveling and maintaining a personal relationship (my advice, take your partner with you!).
It is only now, back at home, that I can decompress all of the wonderful memories of Kolkata and one of those is meeting the extraordinary Christy Smith. I knew she had been the first deaf participant on the reality television show, Survivor, and that she competed in the Amazon. I knew she had been volunteering for many months in Kolkata at a deaf school (and I think it is also an orphanage). I knew also from Rosalie of Empower the Children that Christy had traveled around the world for a year raising awareness on issues of the deaf. I did not know that she had co-founded and sits on the board of directors of Discovering Deaf Worlds. In fact, to quote from her bio on Discovering Deaf Worlds:
A graduate from Gallaudet University with a B.A. in Criminology and Sociology, Smith has held positions as an American Sign Language teacher for various elementary and high school Deaf Education programs, a discovery coordinator and counselor with the Aspen Camp School for the Deaf, facilitator for the Colorado Home Intervention Program, and as a motivational/public speaker across the country. She created a children's television show called Christy's Kids: Challenge Yourself after surviving 33 out of 39 days as a contestant on CBS’s Survivor: The Amazon (2003). Smith is currently pursuing her Masters of Science degree in Secondary Education at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Pretty impressive! So here's a shout out to Christy - and if you have a minute check out the work of Discovering Deaf Worlds. Here you can see Christy on YouTube talking about why she decided to go on Survivor: