Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Hitting My Stride

Yesterday and today have just been a nonstop flurry of...well, just things. I was having trouble adjusting to the rigorous schedule on Monday and Tuesday, but now feel like I'm getting the hang of things and getting the most out of this experience. 

Yesterday was pretty much a mess in the beginning; I woke up at 7:51 when we were supposed to be meeting at 7:50. What had happened was that I had accidentally pressed the button on my alarm in my sleep, and just went on snoring. It was a rough start to a long day.

For class, we went on a walk to the nearby Belmont University to work with their occupational therapy students for our project: to build a small children's motor-driven car, which would help a specific child with a disability develop to lessen the impact of their disability later on in life. Ambitious, I know. The child my group (me, Edward, and a Saudi Arabian student named Mohammed) was assigned was a four year-old boy named Elijah, who had a development disability that slowed his mental and physical growth as well as his motor skills. I had never seen or met a child with this sort of disability, but I think that only one word can describe the boy: precious. I was surprised at how open he was to meeting and playing with complete strangers. One funny thing about him was that his father told us that he loved music and vibrations; in particular he really enjoyed a certain song from Le Miz (a musical), which had prominent bass. I really hope that we can make a difference in Elijah's life...

After class was our Arete class, which was shmackin' (I'm trying to make this a mainstream term before the session ends) as usual. Everyone seems to hate their class (except for Quidditch, of course), but I actually love learning magic tricks. As our instructor says, while we sacrifice that feeling of wonder, of magic after seeing a trick, we gain the ability to give others those magic moments.

The other main event of yesterday was that it was the first "soft night", where we were allowed to stroll around the streets with more shops and such. I decided to spend some time with the rest of the cohort, just to go over how things were going. We got some ice cream, and then just chilled inside a Starbucks, making terrible puns as usual. The others seem to be doing well, making a lot of new friends and getting along with everyone, which is good. Getting to know people isn't exactly my strong suit, but it's definitely something I'm working on.

This morning, I decided to go for a change. I went to sleep earlier last night, and got up around 6:15 to go for a jog with the running club, so that when I join cross country again in the fall I won't completely die, at least. The morning air was already warm, but not uncomfortable, so I got a few laps in around one of the larger lawns, and headed back to the dorms to get ready for class.

This guy isn't actually wheelchair-bound, he's just giving
a demonstration.
For today's class, we planned out some of the modifications that we would be performing on the cars, and then took a field trip to Max Mobility, a small wheelchair company located perhaps fifteen minutes off campus. The work they did was similar to what we were learning; they found and solved problems to let the handicapped live a life just a little closer to that of those not handicapped. Their main work was designing power assist wheels that could be attached to the back of any manual wheelchair. These wheels could detect when you pushed yourself forward on the wheelchair via wristband, and would rotate at the speed corresponding to the acceleration of your hand. They looked so cool that I wanted to take one home...not for me to play with as a toy, of course...

After our classes, Jahnvi introduced me to some people she met: Mya and Nakhul, two of the funniest people I've met since arriving at Vanderbilt. We even ate dinner as a giant group, pulling up chairs and extra tables, and later headed out for soft time together. I'm glad that I was able to hit it off with someone I had never seen before immediately, something that doesn't happen for me often.
Nakhul and Jackie in Starbucks!
I think that I'm getting used to the jam-packed schedule of VSA, and hope that I can keep the momentum I built today going. Oh well, better get to sleep if I want to get up to run again tomorrow...

1 comment:

  1. Ahhh...the recurring message I’m reading at all five of our partner schools is that the ILC spent a fortune to send me across the country where I could oversleep. Where have we failed you, Jae-An? :-)