Convention was a celebration on so many levels, with the highlights of the new Board of Directors installation and Regional Director installation shining brightly. Congratulations to this new team! Our new Board is truly international, with President-elect/Treasurer Marie Dobson-Dunlop (Canada), and Vice-Presidents Emilie Simon (Philippines), Jeanette Gray (Australia), and Cindy Hurd (USA). “Click here” to read details of the new board members.
Our Regional Directors were installed by President Laura Lahman at a fun ceremony on Saturday, July 19th. They were awarded “a new car!” with GPS tracking devices to keep them on the path going forward, and to provide instructions when needed. (Note: they were actually toy cars of various colours and sizes, however the helpful advice and direction will certainly be provided by the new Board and our QI Staff.) The Regional Directors were presented with their new pins – square in shape and white in colour, mirroring the colour of my pin – we all form part of the same team, working together, for the next 2 years. We all share the same purity of purpose and hope for the future. Afterwards, we enjoyed a celebratory buffet lunch in the Ballroom – in the famous Hall of Mirrors.
Convention highlights for me included our Key-Note Speaker Deputy Susie speaking about her journey as a deaf Police Officer and the opportunities this has brought her – through suffering adversity, there grows an inner strength of purpose. Deputy Susie has started groundbreaking projects in many areas over the years, since being awarded Quota International’s Deaf Woman of the Year in 1988, and now asks that we support and promote the new texting emergency calls for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, by texting Smart911 in the United States. Deputy Susie says, “If deaf people can text Smart911 and receive a text response, that will be invaluable.” Members should check locally to see if texting Smart911 is available yet in their communities, or work towards getting it implemented. Other countries might check to see if something similar is in force, or on the drawing board.
Another highlight was the Valedictory Speech by an extraordinary young deaf man – Evan Mercer of Georgia, USA – who moved most members to tears. Truly inspirational. Evan began with the words: “I was born into a world of silence. I did not hear my mother’s first whispered words welcoming me into her life. I did not hear my father’s off-key lullabies as he coaxed me to sleep…3 months after my 3rd birthday, my deafness was discovered… Countless specialists told my parents that I would never learn to read past the 4th grade level. They informed my mom and dad that I would never learn to speak. My best, and probably only, chance at communication would be sign language…conquering one word at a time, I have grown from a boy never expected to master reading to a young man ranked number one in my class (of 494 students). Deafness will always be a part of my life, but I refuse to let it define me. Rather, I intend to be known as an intelligent happy, hard-working person – who just happens to be hearing-impaired.”