Published in the TRU Omega on March 16th
During International Days I had opportunity to take in a few of the events. Improvisational skits performed in the Clock Tower addressed intercultural misunderstandings. While I was watching them, I began to recall times when I have been misunderstood. Most of the time, I find these experiences more humorous than upsetting.
For those of you who don’t know me, I have Cerebral Palsy and use a wheelchair for transportation. I’m unable to use my hands. The significance of this will become clearer as I continue.
When I go out to a restaurant, I often ask for a children’s menu because the servings are smaller and I have a fairly small appetite. I’ve had servers then ask me if I would like crayons and a coloring sheet. I usually just chuckle to myself and politely decline their offers.
Sometimes when I run into a person that I’ve known for a long time but haven’t seen for a while they will still ask, “Do you remember me?”
Usually I reply, “Yes,” and other times I just have to laugh.
After graduating from the Bachelor of Social Work program here at TRU, I found myself looking for a job. During an interview with a work search coordinator, I shared that I enjoyed writing, was about to publish a book of poetry and had my own blog and she asked, “Oh, do you mean you write with a pen?” Despite it being fairly obvious, this person did not realize that I am physically unable to use a pen and I need adaptive computer equipment to help me write.
One of my favorite pastimes is to socialize and meet new people. I especially enjoy doing this here at TRU. While taking a break from my studies, I often go to the Terrace cafeteria to have lunch, and have just recently discovered the Culinary Arts cafeteria. Although I have been coming to TRU for a few years now, I have only recently ventured out to eat in the cafeterias on campus. Because of my disability, I can have difficulty eating but this is quite normal for me. It may appear that I am choking to death or struggling to breathe, but don’t worry, it really does look worse than it is!
Sharing my experiences with all of you is not meant to deter anyone from approaching me and asking me questions. I simply hope to create awareness of misconceptions and let my fellow TRU students know that I too have felt misunderstood.
Because of the diverse cultural backgrounds, lifestyle choices and abilities that are present on campus, we have the unique opportunity to relate to one another through our shared experiences and ask each other questions. I encourage you all to take full advantage of this opportunity and share your unique perspectives with each other. You may be surprised to find that you have more in common than you think! Feel free to ask me any questions you may have and please don’t be shy!