Saturday, August 23, 2008

A "Blind" Oriental

Twelve years ago, I worked part-time while searching for a full-time job. At my job, another deaf girl, Amy, also worked with me, but different hours. However, her shift and my shift overlapped at least two hours or so.

Amy was married with two boys and lived only five minutes away from me. Upon meeting her for the first time, we quickly became fast friends. Almost every weekend, we would visit each other and often get together to go shopping and to parties.

Amy is South Korean who was born hearing. When she was 1-1/2 years old, in Seoul, her mother, for some unknown reason, dumped her at a bus station. An orphanage took her in for the next 1-1/2 years.

Due to unsanitary conditions at the orphange, Amy developed high fever which lasted for a while and as a result, caused her to become "stone" deaf. Hearing aids would not even help her.

When she was three, a couple in Germany decided to adopt her through an agency. However, when Amy was flown there, the couple suddenly changed their mind. Poor Amy was flown back to Seoul to hopefully await another adoption or otherwise stay at the orphanage for the rest of her childhood.

Meanwhile, a Caucasian couple in the U.S. wanted to adopt a boy but when the agency stated they had a girl immediately available but she was deaf. As if it was a coincidence, the adoptive-to-be mother already knew sign language because she had two deaf sisters.

On the spur of the moment, they decided to adopt Amy after all.

Amy grew up in a small town, surrounded mostly by whites. She hardly knew anything about her own country and culture.

Although she was South Korean, Amy always suspected she was abandoned by her own mother possibly due to the fact that she may be half Korean, and with no support from the real father.

She certainly looked Oriental but her hair color was always lighter and her eyes shape and color did not match to those of full-Koreans.

During those two hours of our shift overlap daily at my part-time job, Amy and I would often "whisper" in signs in catching up with the news on what was happening in our lives.

This was during the time that Amy told me this story which made me laugh.

When she was younger, she met a Chinese boy for the first time. He had flat nose and very slanted eyes that looked like as if he was "peering". You could hardly see his irises.

Being a boisterous and outgoing person, Amy wanted to befriend this boy. Curiously, Amy looked at his face, feeling quite uncertain on how to talk to him.

Slowly approaching the Oriental boy and standing across from him, Amy waved in front of his eyes and timidly asked:

Can you see me?