Poetry Contest Finals


(CHEERING) ALIVIA BROWER:
Wow, I can’t see any of you. It’s so bright up here. OK. Hello, my name is Alivia Brower, and I’m from Marjory Stoneman
Douglas High School. I don’t want to worry! AUDIENCE: I want to be a warrior! I’ve grown up with a unique perspective – viewing the world from where the hearing
and hard-of-hearing parts of me meet. I’ve learned that I cannot
separate them because they are both a part of me. Growing up outside of the norms,
I’ve learned to observe in others the things that I myself
cannot observe. And every time I think I’ve learned
all that I’m missing out on, someone teaches me that most people
can hear birds in the trees. People can hear birds in the trees,
that’s amazing. And the ticking of a watch placed
20 feet away in a quiet room, and their instincts will kick in
if they hear the leaves crunching behind them
on their walk home alone. I have to rely mostly
on what I can see. I’m used to facial cues,
and I have become adept at lip reading to make communication a little easier. I analyze my surrounding to make sure
I’m not missing anything important or something that could hurt me. I’m used to seeing
that I’m missing out. Sleepovers are a prime example. When the lights go off
and it’s time for the late-night deep conversations
and everyone’s whispering. So I don’t know what’s going on. I go on autopilot and revert to
nodding my head or I just go to bed because there’s no point
in staying awake, I get too sad. No-one notices, and if they do, they don’t care enough
to change anything and the night goes on without me. I don’t think there will ever be a day
where it hurts any less remembering that a lot of the time, even the people that care about me
don’t care if I’m not up to speed, or they find my hearing loss
a nuisance. It always hurts when someone says,
“Ugh, nevermind.” I observe how much well-hearing
people take for granted, I observe how happy they are
whispering to each other. I observe how a lot of the time, I’m not worth the .0001% of their
energy it takes to repeat themselves so that I’m not left in the dark. It’s hard enough being deaf
without also being blind. I’ve learned to observe in others the things that I, myself
do not experience, and every time I think
I’ve learned all that I’m grateful for,
I wonder why my deaf friend who I’m sharing a bathroom with
keeps barging in on me. And then I realize she’s
never known what knocking is. What I can’t hear because
it’s not clear or loud enough, she will never hear. She relies only on what she sees
and the gut feeling in her stomach that something is wrong around her, and I’m sure she feels like
she’s missing out even more. And though she struggles
more than I do, she wouldn’t change it if she could,
and I feel the same way. Her and I, my deaf and
hard-of-hearing friends are learning every day how to embrace
this part of ourselves because, while it’s not easy being
different, there are others like us, a beautiful community that gets us,
that feels like home to us, and oh my god,
it’s such a freeing feeling. And our own language
to show the world that while sometimes we need
to ask for help, we can do anything
hearing people can. Because while our world is quiet, (YELLS) we’re notorious
for being loud because when no-one else
will be loud enough for us, we will be. I may not have always
been proud of my loss, but I’ve grown up with
the unique perspective, viewing the world from where the hearing and hard-of-hearing
parts of me meet I’ve learned that I cannot
separate them because they are both
a part of me, and I wouldn’t have it
any other way. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

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