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How to be a sponge: learn and teach

Three years ago I had just finished my freshman year. On campus. And I had loved it. Uh, yes, I had 5 ER trips over the two semesters. Once because I didn’t know that people actually mop stairs and I didn’t see the yellow sign that said “slippery when wet” and fell down a flight of stairs and missed 2 1/2 days of classes. And the 4 others were due to asthma and allergies. Over the first summer break, I was hopeful that I could go back there in the fall. But it became clear that wasn’t going to happen. I begged. My parents vetoed. And in the end I was thankful for their veto. As much as I loved the school academically, it didn’t work out great at all when it came to dealing with the dining hall and dean of students regarding my dairy allergy. In fact, it was pretty much a nightmare.

So, I switched all my classes over the summer to still taking them with the same school, but all online as I transitioned to applying to Liberty University’s online program (which is awesome btw!). I changed all my classes to different classes that i could take online. All except for one that was at the beginning of the semester. I can’t even remember the name of the class. But I’ll never forget the experience. We drove for hours and hours out to Colorado Springs for a Deaf convention. I loved every single minute of that trip. I was surrounded by ASL, and there were only a few people there who didn’t really know ASL, so I could sign to pretty much everyone. And I learned a ton on that trip. When we got back to campus, I was sad that I was leaving the next day to fly back home, but the prof asked me to come to the ASL 3 class I would have been in had I remained on campus that semester. It felt a bit awkard at first, but I sat off to the side downloading pictures to my prof’s computer as I watched her teaching class and joined in at times.

She handed a foam squishy ball to the two students in the class then handed one to me. I was speechless. And thrilled. And I watched as she explained in American Sign Language the meaning behind the ball that to most people would mean summer fun with water games.

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This isn’t the exact word for word way she explained it (its been 3 years!) but the same general idea. She explained that we had all been through 2 semesters of intense ASL classes with class 4 hours a week and that’s not counting our own practice time and other events. Now, we were veterans in a way. We had survived year one. And now there were new students coming in for their first year. During our first year, we had soaked in information and signs and facts and learned and learned till our brains were overflowing as we couldn’t hold it all in. Now, it was our turn to take the stuff we had learned and squeeze it out and help the new students and teach them the things we had learned.

In other words, our brains are the sponge ball. We had soaked up information. Now it was time to squeeze it out to help others.

But it doesn’t end there. Because as we are squeezing that ball out, we still kept continuing to learn, and thus refilling the sponge with water to keep teaching and helping others.

Because when you think of it, if you learn a bunch of stuff, but don’t use that to teach others and help others, what good does it do to keep it all to yourself??? And, if you only learn a little, you can only help others a little. But when you keep learning, you expand and what you’re able to do just grows by leaps and bounds.

And, really, that’s the fundamental reason I started this blog. I’ve learned a lot through life experiences. And I want to help others out with what I’ve learned. I’m not a doctor. I’m not an expert. I’m not a parent or relative of someone with food allergies. I am someone with food allergies. I’m only 22. But that doesn’t mean I can’t do little things to help change the world!

So how are you going to take what you’ve soaked up and use it to squeeze water into someone else’s life to help them out or teach them something you’ve learned?

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