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Vol. 2, Issue 3

Credits Editor in Chief Lizzie Sorkin Layout and Graphic Designer Alice Lo Copy Editor Avi Haimowitz


Alim Chandani

Becca Berman

Keith Blamble

Mallory Malzkuhn

Rachel Blake

Samuel Matthew

Lijo Joseph

Table of Contents Quotes from GRO India Delegates

p. 3

Becca’s Experience as a Co-Coordinator

p. 4

NISH’s Perspective p. 4 New Roles in GRO p. 5 Rachel’s Experience as a Co-Coordinator

p. 6

GRO India 2010 Day to Day

p. 8 - 9

GRO India p. 10 My Experience p. 11 A Makeover in India

p. 11

Thank You Tamer! p. 13 Thoughts Shared From GRO India 2010 American Delegates p. 14 - 15



Becca’s Experience as a Co-Coordinator

NISH’s Perspective

by Becca Berman

by Samuel Matthew

I n 2009-2010 I lived in India for six months: four months in the Trivandrum area and two months in Delhi. During this time I taught dramatic arts at a rural school an hour outside of Trivandrum. Later, I also spent time in Delhi meeting people in the deaf community as well as visiting local NGOs.

I never know where to start when asked to discuss India. We are talking about a country that houses 17% of the world’s population, and whose 2001 census recorded 211 languages with more than 10,000 native speakers. I think about India every day. What do I think about when I think of the word “India?” Everything. Right now it is samosas I’ve been craving. I miss the people. I miss being able to walk outside and within a block seeing all the different personal shops for all my needs. I miss having gotten to know the shop owners in the village. After returning from India, I was excited to hear that there was a newlyplanned GRO delegation to Trivandrum. When most tourists visit India, they visit the north, or if they go to Trivandrum, they leave the city to head to the beaches. As a result, I was excited to be able to go back to Trivandrum itself - a city that became a second home to me. When Alim and I arrived there, we went to NISH to meet with the point of contacts and Indian delegates. As we left, I said to Alim, “I like them - this is going to be great!” Over the next few weeks I had the pleasure of working with Rachel Blake, Alim Chandani and the delegates on various activities related to leadership, self-advocacy, and ways to improve NISH for deaf students. I was proud of the Indian delegates for being willing to get out of their comfort zone - especially while doing group debates and teaching their teachers about best communication practices. I was proud of the American delegates for taking on multiple challenges: working in smaller groups, navigating their first time in a new place, and acting as mentors for the Indian delegates. Everyone had a challenge, which they overcame, did an excellent job with, and grew from in the overall process. We are now planning for India 2011, as well as working on finding ways to keep in touch with the delegates. It’s been fun to see the delegates keep in touch with each other, and to keep up the friendships, ideas, and inspiration that were formed during the initial delegation. As Confucius said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”


T he

students at NISH were exposed to a group of people from outside the country for the first time through GRO’s visit. I see this as a new experience in several ways: • The interaction with people from another culture opened our students’ eyes to realities outside their own limited environment. • The students gained knowledge that deaf people from other cultures are successful. • They developed awareness that there is a network of people out there with whom they can bond. The workshops done by the GRO team on communication, empowerment, support, and advocacy were all good. The students at NISH have started a new journey to become more confident and assertive. I do believe that through this experience, they have started to look at their life in a different perspective. But I will know about that more in the coming days... Integration of our campus community is a goal we have set. GRO’s visit and their interaction with the faculty, staff, and hearing/deaf/hard of hearing students was a positive step towards our goal. We need more interaction like this. Thank you, GRO team, for your good work. Hope you will return!

New Roles in GRO Financial Director Jason Nuhn is from Denver, Colorado. He graduated from Metropolitan State College with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting. He enjoys bowling in his free time. He looks forward to working with everyone in GRO, and hopes to contribute his knowledge to help GRO be a better organization financially.

Development Director Heba Toulan Pennington, originally born in Cairo, Egypt, moved to the Washington, D.C. area when she was young. Upon graduating from University of Maryland with a B.A. degree in Communications in 2003, Heba worked for several non-profit organizations before taking the reins of the Note Taking Services Program for the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSWD) at Gallaudet University. Heba hopes to bring 10 years of experience in communications, publicity, event planning, and fundraising to GRO. In her spare time, Heba enjoys teaching figure skating, Agatha Christie mysteries, and taking her 2 girls, Lola and Maggie, to dog parks with her husband, David. Delegation Director Rebecca Berman is originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She now lives in Washington D.C. where she is a graduate student at American University, studying International Training and Education. She first became involved with GRO in 2009 when she was an American delegate in Kenya. She is now really excited about being the new Delegation Director, since she wants to help GRO keep GROwing! Current Staff We’d also like to extend our congratulations to our current staff transferring to their new positions: Katie Cue as Director of Operations, Lizzie Sorkin as Director of Communications, and Smitha Hanumantha as Project Developer.


Rachel’s Experience as a Co-Coordinator: Push to Grow by Rachel Blake


when you say yes to one thing, a whole world opens up in front of your life. A long while ago, a friend emailed me about GRO and its plan in 2009 to send a delegation to Kolkata, India. I completed the application, I got accepted, and I went as a delegate. By the time I returned to the states last spring, my family and friends knew how beautiful an experience it was for me. I opened my eyes and heart to what GRO allowed me to see and feel. Then during the summer, I was offered the position of program assistant coordinator for the next GRO delegation in India. I remember feeling a huge smile on my face. It was such an exciting idea! I loved the idea of helping out with the program, and being able to provide support to the coordinator, the delegates, and the organization. I loved the idea of going across the globe to meet other deaf people again. I loved the idea of passing on my experience as a delegate to others. Yes, yes, yes. But, wait, me as an assistant coordinator? Really? I didn’t know if I could do it; it was a very different position from the one I knew as a delegate. I appreciated GRO so much though, so I went for it anyway. I had no idea what was coming. Yes, the delegation in Trivandrum, India was another beautiful experience. I was there as a co-coordinator with Rebecca Berman. We led the program as best as we could, considering we had only three American delegates and six Indian delegates. We created a day-to-day schedule; we took the floor in front of the delegates; and we had to plan out a lot of things including activities, locations, and meals. We led many group discussions. At the end of the day, we were the ones who had to make decisions for the entire delegation. Personally, I felt those duties were just the opposite of me! I would have loved letting other people make group decisions for me. Still, it was a learning experience. Becca and I had a staff meeting every night with Alim, the director, to go over the events of that day and to prepare for the next day, and that’s where I gained new perspectives on the program and myself. Soon I started watching my-


self carefully every day and analyzing the efforts behind my decision-making and leadership - particularly with how I approached the delegates. I was amazed. Becca and I could see each other grow in our own ways. We could see each other’s strengths shine through and helped each other break through our weaknesses. It was a lot to take in a short time, but it was awesome. Expecting it is not the same as experiencing it. It was a great opportunity for me to try out and test a leadership position. I believe that, especially along with the mental, emotional and spiritual involvement of the delegates, GRO as a delegation in India made a positive impact on the National Institute of Speech and Hearing (NISH), the university that the Indian delegates attend as students. And in the end, the delegates walked away from the experience feeling empowered as well. Through this whole experience, I realized that GRO is one of the organizations that has answers for me. I was not confident I could lead. Or communicate and work with deaf people on the international level. However, GRO provided me with the chance to grow as a leader. GRO gave me that push of confidence, and I grew in many ways. I learned that I was capable of completing certain tasks under the pressure of time, encouraging dialogue among the delegates, and building bridges through language. I am glad I accepted the position, and I am glad the delegation turned out the way it did. The program, as usual, revealed what needs to be done in and for the deaf community on the national and international level. It is also highlighted what every delegate, coordinator, point-ofcontact, and everybody else involved is capable of. It takes an entire delegation to make change happen. It takes peer-to-peer interaction to turn two different cultural groups of individuals into a group of lifetime friends. It takes a lot of encouragement, support, and empowerment to create positive energy and confidence in delegates.

Isn’t this powerful?

Keith (US Delegate) and Indian delegates, Ritto on the Left and Lijo on the Right, keep in touch with each other after their GRO India delegation via webcam.


GRO India 2010 Day to Day December 2010 - January 2011

27 “Becca introduced appam, a new favourite breakfast...” ~ Pam


28 Cafe Coffee Day Orientation!

Arriving at NISH

30 Team VITA





“Turning issues into solutions...” ~ Pam


3 “Riding on a houseboat on the Keralan backwaters - pricless.” ~ Pam


1 The GRO team planted a tree as a sign of empowerment.


4 “I feel so inspired everyday.” ~ Mallory

“When I first met Lekshmy, eight days ago, she did not know what ‘empowerment’ meant. Today, she stands as a lady that knows now.” ~ Rachel


GRO India 2010 Delegates Headshots


6 9 “Ignorance is not always bliss...” ~ Mallory


Planning the final workshop!

10 “I am gonna embrace and appreciate every moment here...and eat as much panner and naan bread as I can.” ~ Mallory

“Our Final Workshop!” ~ Becca


“Indian delegates, I will always remember you and you are in my heart forever.” ~ Pam

Apply for our winter delegation! 9

GRO India

by Alim Chandani

N amaste!

Our fourth delegation in India was yet another unforgettable journey! We had the opportunity to explore the first deaf college in India: National Institute of Speech and Hearing (NISH), affiliated with University of Kerala in Trivandrum, India. About 155 deaf and hard of hearing students are currently enrolled at NISH, working towards their Bachelor’s degrees in computer science or fine arts. NISH also has approximately 90 hearing students majoring in audiology and speech therapy. It is an amazing institution; it feels just like another “Gallaudet” in India! The American delegates had the opportunity to work closely with six junior/senior students who have become amazing deaf role models for their community! Each one of the Indian delegates discovered something unique about themselves that was hidden for so long! Now they have blossomed from a seed to a beautiful plant. Paul Guo, an animator, created an animation that summarizes GRO’s purpose. After the delegates from NISH saw this short film, they were inspired by his work and


began to understand the meaning of words such as “leadership,” “communication,” and “empowerment.” GRO wants to thank Paul for spreading inspiration to delegates from the other side of the world! One of my favorite moments was seeing how our past two delegates ran this delegation for the first time as co-coordinators. Rachel Blake, a delegate from GRO India 2009 and Rebecca Berman, a delegate from GRO Kenya 2009, took on the responsibility of running a challenging and successful delegation. It is always wonderful to see GRO Alumni with the passion to “pay it forward” by stepping up to a management role requiring a great level of commitment and communication skills. Seeing them make fast decisions and handling the required multitasking duties made me reflect on the first GRO delegation that I ran. GRO is truly GROwing. . . I wish to thank both Rachel and Rebecca for their outstanding performances as co-coordinators for GRO India 2010!

have a brighter future. I cried with joy when witnessing the advancement of opportunities for the deaf in the state of Kerala. I look forward to serving my time in my own country in the near future! It is good to know that there is HOPE!

Lastly, NISH and GRO have developed a joint commitment to change the lives of deaf Indians by ensuring sustainable opportunities, which meets the mission of our organization. We look forward to working with NISH again in December of 2011! If you are interested in joining our next delegation to India, the application is up on our website. I guarantee you that this is a trip that will change your perspectives on life and maybe bring about a career change! Thank you, Alim Chandani

This was GRO’s 11th delegation since 2007, and it was a special one for me because it showed me how much my own country has changed since the day I was born. India is starting to give deaf youths a chance to

My Experience by Lijo Joseph Knowledge from GRO: I had a good feeling about Access, Support, Equality, Communication, Role Models, Education, and Empowerment. I felt the concept of Empowerment was important. Change with GRO: I understood the poster of my peer delegates’ ideas for improvement at NISH, which focused on asking our teachers to sign more, and to teach more English, etc... I wanted to explain these ideas, including Gandhi’s teachings, to all my teachers but they missed their opportunity to meet with me. I was not happy with them. I did not like arriving NISH in the afternoon during the weekend. I wanted to start meeting with the delegates in the morning, like the weekdays. Experience of GRO: I had never celebrated New Year’s Eve at midnight before, but my fellow delegates Anup, Ritto, Parvathy and Lekshmy had. All the GRO delegates celebrated New Year’s Eve with me, and I enjoyed it for the first time on the houseboat in Kollam. It was the best thing to learn about GRO and understand it, but I was not sure I could encourage all the other NISH students to work with me. I didn’t know if others wanted to start a Sign Language Club. The hearing NISH students helped me set up a Sign Language Club because they want to learn. The name of club would be “*NO VOICE CLUB.*” Joy for GRO: It felt right to draw out our ideas onto a poster. I liked the games we played for communication: Debate and Telephone. I felt good about GRO. All the GRO delegates, American and Indian, always went out to a hotel/restaurant to eat together and enjoy each other. It was a very beautiful experience.

A Makeover in India!



Thank You Tamer! by Alim Chandani youths to join our delegations by giving them the choices of joining the 1-week or 3-week delegations.

“I have began to understand, more than ever, begun to see, more than ever; begun to take the step, more than ever, into finding my place in the future.” ~ Tamer Mahmoud (GRO Thailand 2007) Tamer Mahmoud joined the first official GRO Delegation to Thailand in 2007 with 11 other delegates. After being inspired, he summarized his experience into a quote, shown above. Immediately, Tamer applied for the GRO India 2007 delegation and gained another amazing experience that woke up his eyes to the future. Tamer found his passion by joining the GRO Team in the Fall of 2007. He contributed many of his skills to GRO in different ways. His amazing technical skills helped us learn how to use GRO’s website in various ways and to make sure it was user-friendly. He also expressed interest in handling delegations and making new collaborations with countries wanting to work with GRO. With Tamer’s immense passion for delegation planning, in 2009 we were able to do four delegations in four different countries. GRO Spring Break Delegations would not have happened if it were not for his hard work and sleepless nights. We definitely saw a jump in the number of deaf youths joining our delegations by giving them the new choice of joining our one-week or three-week delegations. with the numbers of deaf

In December 2009, Tamer was the coordinator for the GRO India program in Kolkata, and the delegates enjoyed having him as their mentor. I saw him grow so much from this program and appreciate little things more than ever before. I enjoyed watching him lead a group of amazing delegates, and in the end, each one of them was inspired and felt part of one big family. A family that will be a part of Tamer forever. From his experience as a delegate in GRO India 2007, he shared: “One thing you will definitely learn is - while being culturally segregated discovering even the smallest and simplest common ground can literally move heaven and earth on a path to friendships, understandings and most of all, appreciations.”

this type of skill. Because of that, Tamer would work wonders if he decides to pursue his interests in the International Development field. His name has transformed into something meaningful to each individual delegate, to the point where he is now one of their role models. I have truly enjoyed working with Tamer for the past three years, especially when GRO was just born and needed all the help we could get. On average, Tamer has volunteered over 16,000 hours in the last three years. We have had our highs and lows since then, but most of all, Tamer was someone that I could trust by virtue of his belief in GRO and its future. One thing that I will miss the most about Tamer is his willingness to make time to listen to my travel stories for hours. Tamer, on behalf of the GRO Team, we wish you the best of luck in your future and want you to know that you are always a part of our team. We are looking forward to your contributions on a different level by developing several fundraising events in the next coming months! We are forever grateful for your passion and commitment to GRO! We know that you “have understood, more than ever, have seen, more than ever; have taken the steps, more than ever, into finding GRO’s place in the future.”

Tamer’s level of patience is higher than most people I know. He can be a stubborn person, yet has the ability to reflect on why he is involved with GRO in the first place. He has impacted many people around the world. Every new delegate that got accepted to GRO needed to communicate with Tamer - without meeting him in person - to ensure that they were prepared for the trip. Based solely on their Internet communications, these new delegates constantly asked me about having a chance to meet Tamer in person. Not only that, Tamer has unique communication skills that allow him to easily connect with international delegates in clear ways. Not everyone has

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Alim Chandani and the GRO Team


Thoughts shared from GRO India 2010 American Delegates H ere I am, back in the states after my trip in India. Initially upon my arrival, I was not used to the

idea of being back in this kind of environment in America, but then I became more accepting and content with what I have, not what I don’t have. When I went to my first class at the University, I started remembering my time interacting with Indian students in their classroom. I learned to appreciate the access I have with my hearing professors, because they are able to use sign language. At NISH, I saw that the professors are not exposed enough to sign language and Deaf Culture. This experience has turned my hat and made me think differently. Oh boy, my body is a different hat, this stomach of mine is not reacting too well to American food. Let’s say it is still going through a period of transition in getting used to my own home state food, because I still do miss the delicious food back in India. It is so much healthier and yummier! Indian food is something I will always appreciate. A great outcome of the program for me was learning how to work well in a group. That’s something I am not accustomed to: working in a team to make a project successful. I am an independent person who came to Global Reach Out to learn how to be a team player. It was quite challenging with some ups and downs, but overall it was really blissful. I worked closely with American and Indian Delegates. I enjoyed my time working with them and learning together about the program. Most of all, beyond the experience of this program, I was able to gain six new Indian friends, Parvathy, Lekshmy, Raja, Ritto, Anup and Lijo. Those Indian people are very special to me and will always be in my heart. I have succeeded in having a webcam session with them, and I am looking forward to staying in touch with them. I am very curious with their progress post-Global Reach Out; not only that, but I also love to chat with them. More web cam sessions will happen more often in the near future, because I miss them very dearly! They are beautiful people and I still think of them everyday. I will always remember India’s beautiful colors, smiling people, and the beauty of the country itself. I fell in love with India!

~ Keith Blamble 14

Thoughts shared from GRO India 2010 American Delegates Con’t... W hen Lizzie Sorkin asked us, the delegates of GRO India 2010, to write something for this news-

letter, I stared at my lotus tattoo on my right wrist and reflected upon the day I got the tattoo in Trivandrum, India. It was my second tattoo, and you know the first few tattoos are always very personal and sacred, and my GRO experience in India was absolutely personal and sacred. I have wanted to visit India since high school, but never knew when and where to start. After hearing about GRO through a couple of friends (and former delegates), I knew I had to experience it. I applied and I still remember the day vividly when I found out that I was one of the selected delegates. I was beyond thrilled – I was finally GOING to India! Little did I know how much of an impact it would make on me – not just the country itself, but the deaf people there. There were just three of us American delegates, working with six Indian delegates from NISH (National Institute of Speech & Hearing). I fell in love with every one of them within the first few minutes after we all introduced ourselves. I was immediately taken aback by their warm, good-natured energy, and I feel so fortunate to have gotten to know them for two weeks and a half. During those two and a half weeks, we worked together as one team to make changes and differences in their school, NISH. I was overwhelmed with their lack of Deaf pride – for example, they would sign “hearing” with a hand flashing in front of the ear, while pronouncing the word “normal” instead of “hearing.” Even the teachers do that. And during the workshop with NISH teachers, our Indian delegates were so disappointed when most of the teachers did not care enough to stay for their presentation, THE presentation that would make a difference and perhaps change their perspective on their teaching methods. It broke my heart seeing them like that and that was when I felt the fire inside me, the passion that I have been waiting to feel. I will be graduating this May from Gallaudet University in Educational Theatre Arts with no fixed plans for the future. After GRO, I knew I had to go back to India someday, and I would also like to travel to other countries, helping to improve the education system for Deaf children. GRO opened my eyes to the reality of the world, what it is like to be deaf in other countries, especially India. It has made me more globally aware and now I have the lotus tattoo as a constant reminder of that fire in me.

~ Mallory Malzkuhn

View GRO India 2010 Delegation Video on YouTube! 15

Forever GROing • Our Purpose • Our Mission • Our Vision • Our History • Our Story Global Reach Out Initiative (GRO) is designed to build a global network of Deaf youth who unite to improve the quality of life for Deaf members within their home communities. Many developing countries do not enforce human rights for their Deaf citizens; consequentially, their ability to succeed in various spheres of life is limited. GRO is more than just an outreach organization that helps others - it seeks to empower Deaf youth in a mutual way by bringing together American and foreign delegates. Many organizations currently exist to serve deaf communities internationally, but none exist that utilizes a peerto-peer model to ensure that empowerment, rather than dependency, is the result of their collaboration. The peer delegates combine their experiences as Deaf people and their capacities in leadership to create and present workshops related to specific issues in their Deaf communities. Our goal is to encourage independence in all delegates; we expect them to establish communication networks that exist long after the delegation itself is over. We believe unity is the first step in resisting oppression. It may be idealistic, but many successful policies for social changes were and are often dismissed as impossible. GRO believes that social change in the global Deaf community is possible, and it strives to create a world in which deafness does not foster oppression; instead it creates empowerment. GRO provides a solution by establishing cross-cultural relationships that empower deaf youth in the U.S. and developing countries so that both groups feel motivated to accomplish goals that strengthen awareness and enforcement of Deaf rights. GRO’s programs are designed to push young members of Deaf communities worldwide to recognize their capacities as leaders and to work to obtain educational and social resources for themselves as well as others. P.O. Box 57269, Washington D.C., 20037

Newsletter #7  

The GRO India 2010-2011 newsletter issue!

Newsletter #7  

The GRO India 2010-2011 newsletter issue!