Sunday, March 6, 2011

Why Am I Here?

All last week, in every class I went to, I was asked the same two questions -
"Why are you here?" and "What goals do you want to accomplish during your stay?" The first couple of times I was asked these I was slightly taken aback. Technically, I am here at the MCBTC (Michigan Commission for the Blind Training Center for Personal Adjustment Training. That's the program I am following while I am here in Kalamazoo. Other than that. . Hmmm. . . . I am supposed to know why? 
I thought I was here because it was strongly encouraged by my counselor and rehabilitation teacher assigned to me through the Commission. Didn't these teachers know this? Weren't they the experts? Shouldn't they be telling me the goals I need to meet to get out of here? 

After some reflection (and observation of other students) I began to realize that I was in charge of my program. These people don't know me at all, most of them didn't even know the basic facts about me - married, lost vision when had daughter, is a teacher, etc. . . . It's not like every person who works at the Training Center was presented with a case file regarding the intricate details of my life for the last 31 years. Additionally, every student was here for different reason. I was the only one here who truly knew why I had decided to come here and what I hoped to do after I left. The teachers' jobs were to help me get from Point A to Point B.

So here's why - I am here to complete the Personal Adjustment. I have been "adjusting" to my vision loss since the minute that I became aware that it had occurred. I have figured out a lot of tricks and shortcuts to make my everyday life manageable. In fact, I feel as if I have been quite successful in adapting as a visually impaired individual. As a result, I was initially quite skeptical about what the Commission could offer me that I couldn't figure out myself. What I didn't know was how to be a blind wife, mother, or teacher. Ultimately, I want to return to teaching (at least in some capacity) and to be successful in any of those roles, I can't just "get by."

Through the arm-twisting of my rehab teacher, I attended a Mini-Adjustment Seminar last November. It was a powerful and life changing experience. I met wonderful people who were going through different, but equally awful adjustments and I learned a lot from them and the staff who ran the Mini. Perhaps the most important things I took away with me was while there may different ways to do things, some are definitely better than others and by learning from people who have studied and/or experienced vision loss, I'll be able to be efficient and more confident in all that I do.   

So, my goal is to become comfortable with being legally blind and learn all about the technologies and resources that are available to assist me in every role I take on. I have so much to learn to meet this goal and it's going to be more complicated than I originally thought. I can't imagine trying to achieve this without the help of the Commission and the knowledgeable people here at the MCBTC. 

Hopefully, tomorrow someone will ask me those previously dreaded questions. I finally have some answers of my own.

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