Who would have thought that I would spend over two months in Canada? I never expected that I would be in a different country, away from family and friends in the UK, for quite so much time. I had a great time, however, there are negative as well as positive moments when learning who you are, and where you want to be in life.
Ever since my Dad passed, I lost a part of me. One of the last conversations I had with him was when he told me “Thomas, you just finished your masters. I want you to live your life. Take a break from studying and go have fun”. I wasn’t sure what he meant exactly. All my life, I have wanted to work hard so that I can continue to prove people wrong about my deafness. It is true that my Dad made me continue my education, but at the same time he inspired me to stay in education, and I have no regrets about that. The only difference between my Father and I is that in his early days he never had an opportunity to enjoy life as I am now. I finished my masters last year and my vision was to do a PhD straight after but taking that break instead made it the greatest year.
At the beginning of 2019 I was on the “Undateables” show and what an amazing experience that was. I had so many plans, projects and ideas, on which I was going to collaborate with amazing people, but I didn’t think about myself. That is probably because I didn’t know where I want to be, and I was struggling to know what I was trying to achieve. So, I decided to take a gap year of to figure that out.
My dad was my protector who kept me safe and secure. Despite that, I have never got over my loss. Instead, I have just learned how to live with it. He usually guides me in the right direction when I talk to him about my ideas and plans. This is one of the reasons why I decided to work in a Summer camp with kids – something I never thought I would do. I needed to find part of myself and do something enjoyable. I am proud of myself for working at that camp. Working with kids inspired me in many ways. They made me realise how much one person you can make a difference to kids’ lives.
When kids draw pictures for you or tell you that you are their favourite counsellor, you experience a sense of hope, euphoria, pride, awe and love from the kids. This is because you impart your energy and share your experiences with them, and they do the same. It creates a special connection that I never expected I would have. It made me understand why my Dad loved his children so much. I understand why he put so much heart and soul into my siblings and me. For that, I will always be grateful, and I will cherish it forever.
There were challenging times, such as when kids misbehave, or behave in difficult ways. But how would you learn from the consequences of being faced with only positive and happy experiences all of the time? You wouldn’t. There was a kid who was homesick at camp and I had never dealt with anything like that. Yet I eventually managed to put smile on this kid’s face, and they had the best time at the camp in the end. Everything I did at camp made me realise that I need to get out more often as opposed to studying and working on paper all of the time. I need to be proactive, and writing a blog is one of the things I can do to fulfil that goal.
How would I have anything to write now about if I had not been active and experiencing things to inspire the writing? I wouldn’t.
I can confidently say that being camp counsellor at Camp in Alberta was one of the best experiences of my life. Looking after kids is a huge responsibility, and what’s more, it is rewarding. You’re surrounded by people from all over the world, as well as Canadians. You develop skills that are valuable in any setting and you also partake in a range of activities such as high ropes, canoeing, low ropes, wide games, and so much more. You are never bored. Also, I was surrounded by people who made me feel included as a deaf person. It was difficult at the start, but you just have to remember not to give up and to put yourself out there. Stepping out of your comfort zone is one of the best things you will ever do.