Embracing sad memories in the past can lead us to future success…

Reflecting back on my life trajectory, this is one of the things I have come to realize: embracing sad memories in the past can lead us to future success. Gaëlle

Reflecting back on my life trajectory, this is one of the things I have come to realize: embracing sad memories in the past can lead us to future success. Let me tell you why.

I had a rough childhood. I was bullied in school. It didn’t happen until I turned six, a tough year when my mom passed away. Her loss affected me deeply. I became really bad at school, and being penultimate in class was no surprise anymore. There is a day I will remember forever, when one teacher of mine humiliated me in front of the whole class. She said I was a dummy while literally pushing my forehead with her finger. Can you imagine how I must have felt after such a disgraceful incident? I felt miserable and I could not help but weep. I wanted to shrink until I became invisible, but I could not. I had no desire to come to class anymore, but I did. I tried to persuade myself that this was a nightmare that will one day turn into a fairy tale.

Fourteen years later, to my surprise, that very same story of mine inspired 20 young girls from the Peace Corps Volunteers’ Girls Leading Our World camp to keep their chins up while facing difficulties. And later, to my own surprise, the same story ended up inspiring many more youth groups both from the rural and the urban areas. I never thought that one day, people will look up to me this way.

Today, I feel like a conqueror, not because I’m the best (I know I’m not) but because then, I realize that my pain in the past has become a weapon for others to win their battle. This is what I’d call “future success”!

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Deaf, not dumb!

“What is it like to have a hearing impairment?”

If you are a hearing person like me, chances are you haven’t thought through such a question yet. Believe me or not but this question did start to cross my mind. You probably wonder how it all started. I was in the US back in September 2014 when I got the chance to interact with a deaf person for the very first time in my life. I had no idea of what it was like to sign or what kind of attitude I should adopt while communicating with deaf people. Quite honestly, I didn’t know what to say. I was literally stuck. I remember though I enjoyed watching the expression of this woman’s face while signing. I fell in love with every single movement of her hands, fingers, and eyebrows.

From that very moment, I decided I would connect with this deaf young woman from Nigeria no matter what. Later then, we became friends 🙂 I will always recall googling up “Happy Birthday ASL” because I so wanted to surprise her and wish her a happy birthday in sign language. Anyway, that very moment changed the way I saw what it’s like to have hearing impairment/loss.

There’s too much misconception about deaf people. If you are a hearing person who never got the chance to interact with deaf people, don’t worry because I hear you. I used to be in your shoes. I guess I wrote these 2 facts for people like you to meditate on. You don’t have to agree with me. That is not the point. My heart for these folks just prompted me to write this and share what I have in my heart.

  1. Deaf people are exactly like you and I

I had so many unanswered questions in my mind when I first got to interact with my very first deaf friend. Of course, she wouldn’t hear me if I talked to her in her back. She wouldn’t hear me if yelled out “Watch out!! There’s a car behind you!” The deaf cannot hear. I get that. But that is it. For one second, imagine you’re an educated deaf entrepreneur (1/ like you and I, some deaf folks get good education and some don’t 2/like you and I, there are also creative deaf people out there who can literally blow you away with their super far-fetched creative ideas to solve world issues) How would you feel if a hearing guy decided to go ahead and sign a contract in your name just because he thought that since you’re a deaf entrepreneur, you’re not able to read, think and sign the contract on your own? I am pretty sure this would not make you happy, right? (…) Like hearing people, they can have low or high IQ. It’s that simple. This reminds me of last August 12, 2015 (International Youth Day) when I organized this event named “Marenina aho fa mitovy aminao ihany” as part of YALI Madagascar activity. In English, it literally means “I am deaf but I am just like you”. The goal was for 20ish deaf and hearing youth to get together in one place and have mutual understanding. The outcome was super impressive. By the end of the day, the hearing folks ended up empathizing with the deaf guys; they learned all about who they are: their passion, their love stories, their vision…some even shared crazy things that cracked up a couple of people. But what I cherished most about this day was when came the time for the deaf to teach the hearing guys how to sign at the very end. I remember they were all over the place and all the hearing people were all so eager to learn.

–To respect the participants’ confidentiality, I cannot post the video here-———

What more? Like you and I, they have feelings. They get sad, excited, happy, angry… and yeah FYI, they fall in love too. ❤ FYI, they love selfies as much as you and I do haha.

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Life…full of surprises!!!

To me, going to the US last summer was such a big surprise. It probably was the best surprise I’d ever had in my entire life. I don’t know how about you but I have always been such a big dreamer. Furthering my education in America has always been one of my deepest dreams. I even recall that in my dreams, I would fly to the US in 2016 as a Fulbright scholar. God took me by surprise, though! He surprised me with an amazing program called YALI (Young African Leaders Initiative). So instead of waiting until 2016, He used YALI to make one of my dreams come true earlier than I could have ever thought. Yep, 2014 was definitely my year. It’s been thrilling that I have been to my dream country for less than four months.

Now on my way back to Madagascar, I really didn’t expect that another surprise was awaiting me. Just so you get the whole context, my initial itinerary was not meant to be US-London-Johannesburg-Madagascar but US-France-Madagascar instead. But since the airline which I got my flight ticket from went on strike, I had to go through another airline. A very close friend of mine texted me prior my departure day about how bored and pissed off she was while having a layover in London and South Africa. Taking that into account, I put my devotional book, my planner, my camera, and my computer in my carry-on. And I was like: “Okay, I am ready. If I get bored at the airport at least I know what I will be up to.” haha. When the D-day arrived, things went as planned. I went to the VA airport, got in the airplane, and flew to London.

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Here comes the surprise. I thought that like everybody, at least like my friend who left two days ahead of me, I would be bored to death  at the airport waiting for my next flight (which was 7 hours from then) …Do you wanna guess what happened? When I came to that counter (I will call it a counter. You know this place where you show your VISA and passport), the person there asked me whether it had been my first in London. Of course, I said it’s my very first in London because it was obviously my very first there. The person went on: “Have you ever wanted to visit London?” And I was like: “Yeah, I love traveling and London is definitely one of the places I have always wanted to go to.” (with a very big smile on my face because I really meant every word I said 🙂 Guess what? The guy took a stamp and issued me a VISA on the spot. I didn’t ask for it, I didn’t bribe him, I didn’t beg him to…but I was issued a VISA. You know what it implied. Yeeeaaah!! I could leave the airport and go see what London is like. I just couldn’t believe it. You can’t imagine how HAPPY I was. I had family there but my cousins couldn’t make it there because I was way too far from where they were. Plus, it was on a weekday so they were all at work. Hello adventure!

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I grabbed my carry-on, got all my stuff safe, checked the rest of dollars I had and had them exchanged into pounds. It was super exciting to live such an experience. You only have a few bucks in your pocket, you have no idea where to go but still…you go. I bought this metro card and got the map of London. In UK, they call ‘subway’ underground instead. It was pretty cool to hear the British accent again. It has been so long since I had heard someone speak with such accents. I could feel I was in London. It was super exciting to have that map on and decide which way to go. I had over 6 hours to go until my next flight. So of course I went on the underground and went to Westminster Station where I could take some photo shots by famous “Big Ben” and the “Eye of London”. And again…of course, I also visited the neighborhood which was very nice. It looked quite old but royal and pretty.

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What was pretty cool to me there as well is the cabs…You can’t imagine how cute they are. NYC cabs are all yellow but what makes the cabs in London special is that they all look alike. Cabs in London are called Hackney carriage…Check out this video I took. So cute, aren’t they? I wanna have one of these. Haha

You might wonder what this post is for. I just felt like sharing with you guys that sometimes we, as humans, have plans. We plan things out so much that we sometimes forget that we are only humans. Things are not under our control. We think we know what is going to happen at this very moment but we don’t know what is going to happen. At least, this is what I believe. In my story, I experienced that, I thought I would be stuck at the airport, taking photos, reading books and posting some Facebook photos but I left the airport instead and got to see the beauty of London from the outside. Life is sooo good!! Never forget that. I am personally convinced that life is full of surprises because God is full of surprises. Jesus will always surprise me! 🙂

 “I am personally convinced that life is full of surprises because God is full of surprises.” Gaelle

PS: My camera shut down pretty early so I couldn’t take that many photos.