Library Archives

Volunteer your way to a New Direction

When I was a university student, I just knew that I wanted to become a teacher for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. I wasn’t really sure how I would make it happen; I certainly didn’t have any experience working in this area, but I KNEW that this is what I wanted to do with my life. So, what any logical person does when they want to move their life into a particular direction does, I looked up what would be required of me to be a special needs teacher, particularly for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.


The first thing I needed to do was to learn the language. I enrolled myself into American Sign Language 101 at York University. I loved it! I loved the expressiveness of the language. I loved being able to understand people who were communicating in sign. It challenged me and held me spellbound. I enrolled in the next level and became quite fluent. I soon realized that I needed to become more immersed in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community to better understand the complexities and issues I would face as a teacher.

Any education program in Canada requires students to have a strong background in volunteering with children. If I were going to apply to Teachers College, I would require experience with children. I contacted a school in my neighbourhood and began volunteering in a grade 5 classroom. I enjoyed my time working with these students, but they were hearing: a small problem for a person who is trying to learn about Deaf and Hard of Hearing culture.

I found the Bob Rumball Centre for the Deaf and started to volunteer there. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. Most of the clients living there were Deaf and/or Hard of Hearing, as well as special needs. Their communication was rudimentary and hard for me to follow and I was volunteering with adults, not children. A fellow volunteer suggested that I might want to look into volunteering at a school for the Deaf.

After some time, I found the Earnest C. Drury School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing 80km away, in Milton Ontario. A school dedicated to teaching the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Knowing how far it was to travel to, I contacted them and asked if I could volunteer in a classroom. They said yes. I was over the moon and so terribly scared. I was taking the exact step I needed to secure my future as a teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. I went once per week, for a year, spending the day in the classroom and helping where I could help.

I applied to Teacher’s College and was accepted. I was one step closer to my dream.

I ended up in a different career, but that’s another story. The point that I want to illustrate is that my experience volunteering took me into the direction that I needed to go. I had a vision, and volunteering in the right direction took me there. My opportunities gave me a chance to:

  • meet people who were able to point me in the right direction
  • gain experience where I had none
  • enjoy a learning experience
  • immerse myself in a new culture
  • make a difference in the life of people I connected with

There are so many organizations that would love to have help. There are many ways for you to find volunteer opportunities. Think of what you have to offer, what you would like to gain, and go for it. Volunteer as much or as little as you can.

If you’re looking for a starting point, the Surrey Public Library has both opportunities and references available. You may also consider becoming a Library Champion like Mansoor Karimifar. Leave a comment below to tell me what your goal is, and what steps you will take to get there.

The Little Boy Who Doesn’t Hear

The following poem is written by Library Champion May Wang. It took my breath away.

The Little Boy Who Doesn’t Hear
–Does he have hearing problems?
The teacher asks my mom.
–He doesn’t answer my questions,
And he doesn’t respond to other kids.

Yes, I hear you.
And it HURTS.

When Mom said we were moving to a new home,
In the most beautiful place in the world,
She was not lying.

Here trees and grass are forever green,
And there are flowers all year round.
Little bunnies peep at you from under the bushes,
Chubby squirrels nibble happily at your food.
Baby ducks waddle behind the big ones
Huge flocks of snow geese make spectacular sights

But all these put together,
Still don’t make happy homes,
Not even with the Spiderman costume on Halloween,
Not even with all the gifts under the Christmas tree,
Not even with everyday turning into no-homework day,
Not even with pinky clouds looking like cotton candies.

Not when mom’s eyes begin to cloud up with doubts,
Not when daddy is only a talking face on the screen.
And not when I don’t have a clue how to behave at school.

When do I stand?
When do I sit?
When do I talk?
When do I laugh?
When am I getting too close to someone else?
I am scared of this so called “personal space”.

Of course I hear you,
I just don’t understand.
I don’t even speak the language.
So I build a wall of silence for self-defense.

And when you ask my mom that question,
I hear you,

And it hurts

No time to read? Try Audio Books!

Book club is coming up and I had absolutely no time to read the book. I did, however, have the time to listen. I had a long drive from Vancouver to Calgary ahead of me. I decided to get the Audio Book using my new borrowing privileges from the Surrey Public Library (I recently added the Surrey Public Library to my currently library card to increase my borrowing privileges).


Usually, I arm myself with music on my iPhone for the drive. After about 8 hours, I get pretty tired of the selection that’s on there and simply drive in silence, willing the time and the miles to pass quickly. This time, I took along my book. I plugged it into my CD player and started the drive. It was fantastic.

I was transported into the book by the voice of the narrator. I was taken. The same road that I’ve travelled so many times was suddenly not the same boring drive. In fact, I didn’t really even notice the drive (though it was beautiful!). I was busy focusing on the ever thickening plot of the novel. Time passed, daylight waned, the book came to an end. Before I knew it, I was in Calgary. The drive hadn’t seemed as long.

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I wished I had brought more books for the ride home (I managed to finish 3!). I am looking forward to doing this again, as well as exploring other audio opportunities; I have been wanting to learn another language. I know where I’ll be headed for my next visit to the library: the audio languages section.