September 22, 2015 / By Bill Barkeley
The Transformation: In Wanting to Help Others
Bill Barkeley is a deaf-blind adventurer from Michigan and a No Barriers Board Member. He recently accompanied a dozen deaf teenagers from around the nation on No Barriers Youth’s Leading the Way expedition. Barkeley shared this powerful observation on how those teenagers shifted their perspectives and started to think about the importance of a No Barriers Life Element — Elevate.
The next generation of leaders went through a transformation right before my eyes in the course of the expedition to Peru.
They came into the Machu Picchu experience looking to meet more people like them — hearing impaired or deaf and a fellow teenager or young adults from America.
They came thinking they would take a lot out of the experience. Meet people, build their own network and have fun.
What the U.S. expedition team members found was a world very far from the reality they face with the hearing technology, ADA and many other resources here in the US. In Peru, the same-aged teenagers and young adults have none of this. A stellar standout Peruvian hearing impaired/deaf person may have gotten to the 5th grade and dropped out. The vast majority have not even entered the first grade with a cutoff at the age of 14.
The transformation was when the U.S. expedition team members looked beyond the harsh initial impressions and saw the hearts and minds of teenagers and young adults as people … human, just like them. After the first deaf student exchange, the conversations amongst them all our members changed.
The expedition conversations shifted to “I do not have the barriers they face. Their mountains to climb are much harder — to be seen, heard and accepted in the Peruvian culture — it would be easy to understand if they gave up hope. I want to do something to make a difference.”
That shift in perspective from what they were going to be taking out of the expedition to seeing others, leading change and helping others speaks to one of the core values of No Barriers. It is not what you take out from an experience that defines you. It is what you do with what you have taken out of the experience and used it to better yourself, your community and our world that defines you.
Think about your own experience with elevation…
Are you helping others to change the worldview of who you are? It is easy to talk the talk than walk it yet leaders embrace the energy and momentum of elevation to carry all of us all to places we cannot even possibly imagine.