Archive for April, 2013

Feature Writer John Christie – Swedish Disability Services Program Serves as Global Model for Success

Sweden has a program which was started in 1993 that allows the disabled to purchase personal care assistance from both public and private entities. The program is funded 100 percent through the National Social Insurance plan. This means that any disabled person who is eligible can participate in the program regardless of their income level and are offered access to one thousand competing providers to choose from. With all this competition, the disabled have seen a drastic improvement in quality of life.

The program was initially created through the disability movement. Prior to its inception, many home helpers would come into someone’s home and not know how to assist the disabled person. This created numerous situations where the potential for injury or negligence was very high and the system was in dire need of reform. With a renewed focus, they have been able to completely redesign the program from the ground up.

In 2009 alone, the program assisted 60,200 persons, and since its inception in 1993, tax payers have saved 29 billion (SEK) due to reduced healthcare costs stemming from the disabled community. The program now also reinforces employment and independent living skills, as well.

While the program has been a great success in many areas of the disabled community of Sweden, it isn’t without its failures. One major shortfall is that the blind and the deaf-blind are not eligible for the program at this time. In addition, persons with cognitive disabilities seldom qualify. A lack of access to this system for these groups is a major oversight, and one which should be addressed as soon as possible.

Residents in the United States have access to a similar program and have to be on Medicaid or similar assistance to qualify. In addition, applicants have to go to an independent living center to see if they qualify for personal assistance or a personal care attendant. If they do qualify, they either have to pay for services themselves or through the insurance. In addition, they are required to find their own Personal Care Attendant (PCA), rather than having one assigned to them. While a much more involved process, this allows an individual to hand pick who they want to work with, which can be a very positive experience.

Sweden’s program has become a great model for many other countries in areas of health insurance and personal assistance for the disabled. It does not exclude anyone based on income and still allows participants in the program the ability to choose which care providers they would like to work with. While it does still have a way to go in terms of including the blind, deaf-blind, and cognitively disabled, the initiatives that Sweden’s healthcare system have taken prove that the disabled community can be cared for without created a massive tax burden for the overall population to bear.


2013 Poetry Month Supplement

Table of Contents

Note from the Editor
Match – by Mary-Jo Lord
Birch – By Nancy Scott
A Baby’s’ Birth – By Terri Winaught
Empathy – By Camille Petrecca
Blindness – By Valerie Moreno
Mother’s Day – By Sally Rosenthal
Break Away – by Ann Chiappetta
A Friend – By Ray Holland
Early Blooms – By Marilyn Brandt Smith
Miss Em Speaks – By Sandra Streeter
Opening Day – by Bonnie Rennie
Spring Lilacs – By Karen Crowder
Untitled Submission from Kate Chamberlin

You may skip to a new poem at any time by using your browser or word processor’s Find or Search function to look for the ### symbol.

Note from the Editor

Hello Everyone,

We have a great offering for you all this year, as multiple writers have chosen to share their poetry with us. Thank you to everyone who submitted for this special supplement. I hope you all enjoy the works represented here as much as I did.

Take care, and thanks for reading.

Ross Hammond, Editor


Match – by Mary-Jo Lord

for a
match to spark
the embers of creativity
and inspiration forming ideas that
fill my white page
with the black
flame of


Birch – By Nancy Scott

I knew you were God
calmly standing alone
in early spring grass.
Whole at your base,
trinity above, twisted,
sincere. Three rough-
fingered hands reached
palms up. You were not
tall, not smooth, not straight,
not afraid.

I read your carved
life of wrinkled parchment.
It said, “This is
how it really is
and it is enough.
Touch me and remember.”


A Baby’s’ Birth – By Terri Winaught

In March, I would have my first child.
My emotions were just running wild,
But when she came too soon,
My fears flew to the moon!
My fears were in full bloom!
And my feelings were not at all mild.

As I sat and labored to give birth,
I felt a closeness to God’s earth.
When I first touched my baby,
I was smitten! No maybe!
I was so filled with love, joy, and mirth.

She was born on Saint Patrick’s Day.
As I stroked her, on my chest she lay.
When I then fell asleep
And I made not a peep:
“Thank you, God,” was what I did pray.


Empathy – By Camille Petrecca

Run, young target-child, from chants and taunts!
Flee from word-stones hurtled by your peers.
Your only fault is being far less agile.
Move above their arrows and their jeers.
Climb high to rise from hiss of whispers spread.
Hide; confide within your tree-retreat.
Safe, in the sky, observe and grow and know,
So you will be another’s wisdom seat.
Yes, someday, young ones nestled next to you,
Or jostled gently on your wiggling knees,
Will learn from you who counsels, guides, and cares,
The gift of empathy which shares and frees.


Blindness – By Valerie Moreno

Stepping in to the world,
my white cane taps lightly
on ground, grass, making music.

As I walk, I am
confronted by assumptions-
“Oh, that poor thing!”
“How does she survive?”

Someone grabs my arm,
begins to tell me of
an operation or prays for my sight

I’m embarrassed, humiliated, irritated-
am I such a intolerable object,
only damaged eyes?

I shake my head,
no, it’s not being blind I contemplate
each hour, every day…

It’s the sound of music,
children laughing,
the purring of my cat,
the voice of a friend

I am not helpless or hero,
triumphant or tragic-
I just want you to open your eyes
to realize I am like you.


Mother’s Day – By Sally Rosenthal

On the second Mother’s Day without her,
my mother’s daughter woke to the ache of memory
and, as her mother had done, wrapped arthritic hands
around a coffee mug for warmth
and stroked the yellow Labrador who loved them both.

Honoring a legacy of fortitude and resilience that
had served her mother well through wartime England
and a life peppered with hardship,
my mother’s daughter, not giving in to sadness,
slipped a body grown lean through loss,
into new black jeans and topped them
with a rose pink sweater that called to mind
the flowers her mother had tended
in their small-town Pennsylvania garden.

Fastening her guide dog’s harness, my mother’s daughter
stepped out to find herself in a bookstore cafe
where, with the weight of a sleeping dog’s head on her foot,
she wrote this poem in her head
and held it in her heart.


Break Away – by Ann Chiappetta

She Hurts
I soothe by
traveling to the past
Littered with obsidian precipices
and blackness

caring for her
stirs vulnerability
like a cyclonic eye
determined to maim the heart.

Helping means
Chiseling grooves
The hammer blows striking
Shard by shard

Her prison begins to break away
As I fall apart.


A Friend – By Ray Holland

From the beginning of life until the end
There is always someone near you that you can call a friend

When you are walking or riding in a car
Your friend will be near you wherever you are
To find this friend you must open your mind
With a little concentration He will be easy to find

If you need comfort or just a thought to share
When you have a need for Him your friend will be there

There is no need to wonder or cry out His name
When you have problems He will appear without blame

Remember daily your friend is near
When Jesus embraces you there is nothing to fear


Early Blooms – By Marilyn Brandt Smith

Hello, yellow daffodil,
Forsythia, and tulip;
How did you find your way out?
It’s been so cold for so long;

Does Old Punxsutawney Phil
Have a vision problem too?
But Mother Nature promised!
Did you get your strength from her?

Welcome to our world again;
Tell your pink and purple friends
It’s safe, and it’s warming up;
Thanks for believing in spring.


Miss Em Speaks – By Sandra Streeter

“Forever away?”
This, my plaint,
Occupying days…and days… and days…
After that ginormous, wheeled parcel of human garb
Has followed you I-Don’t-Know-Where!
Only so much to dine, and drink, and recreate,
Before retiring to my lonesome bed.

Click! Sweet, familiar signal.
The great xyloid shield swings inward!
“Oh, boy! Oh, boy! Oh, boy! Oh, boy!”
(Have I memorized the ad, or what)!
So, I, with unabashed longing,
And unfiltered glee,
Shout my greeting,
Sing like Etta James!

Your Humanian response, in Mother-Dialect,
Is worthy salutation:
Bidding me to close pursue,
As you fast unload all
That left with you, and then some.
Swept up in your embrace,
Once…again… again…
My tuxedo smoothed–
I give my low assent,
Depart for but a moment, then
Seek your hand once more:
I work from the soprano score:
“Please, miss…I want some more…”
And that is Truth entire.


Opening Day – by Bonnie Rennie

Hurray Hurray, it’s Opening Day!
Time to chase our blues away.
Yes, there’s work to do and bills to pay,
But it’s time to play

Since Halloween we’ve been bereft.
The field’s deserted, our team has left.
But a spark of hope we’ve faithfully kept,
For February and Spring Training will come around.

The players will report, the manager will explain,
The feel of the sun, the pungent March rain,
This year will be better, will be the refrain,
Aspiring pitchers will take to the mound.

The mistakes of last season are forgotten at last.
Bitter stolen victories finally put in the past.
The new year’s a clean slate and will go by too fast.
Maybe this year our team will be crowned.

So we drop what we’re doing, because life is too brief.
It’s now early April, fans turn over a new leaf.
Source of towering joy, alas, also great grief,
Bat connecting with ball, how we love the sound!

Hurray Hurray for Opening Day!
Hope springs eternal, it’s supposed to be that way.
The Boys of Summer are here to stay!
We’re all ready to play


Spring Lilacs – By Karen Crowder

These fragrant shrubs bloom everywhere in the Northeast,
Filling homes and yards with their sweet gentle scent,
They bloom for too short a time in April and May
I smelled there fragrance off my parent’s back porch
Mom brought them in placing them in vases on windowsills in our kitchen and living room.
They’re pretty blossoms filling our house with their delicate perfume.

At school you could smell their sweet scent through open doors.
Their elegant shrubs in tall glass vases in every cottage,
I was happy discovering this scent came in bottles,
You could find lilac perfume everywhere from the five and ten to door-to-door catalogs
Inhaling lilac cologne during winter reminds us of spring days to come.

Lilacs are hardy even blooming in the cold of Northern Maine
Their fleeting sweetness reminding us summer with its heat will soon arrive.


Untitled Submission from Kate Chamberlin

I am not a poet
And everyone knows it.
I cannot make things rhyme
So, I’ll not waste your time.


End of Poetry Supplement

Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – Annual Conference on Employment and Visual Impairment

Our Director, Dr. Karen Gourgey, dreamed of offering a free conference on aspects of employment and visual impairment right here in New York City. She was encouraged to create one at Baruch’s conference center. Thus, the Conference on Employment and Visual Impairment: Policies and Practice was born. All thought it would be a one-year event. This year marks our sixth and the date has already been chosen for 2014. I’d say it’s been an unqualified success. Here is a thumbnail description.

The conference is comprised of individuals and agencies representing the interests of the blind, visually impaired and deaf-blind communities. Once participants are seated and enjoying a continental breakfast, the day begins with a keynote speaker, who is also a member of this community. This year our speakers were Ms. Judy Dixon from the national Library Service
(NLS) and her husband Doug Wakefield, who demonstrated some iDevice apps they find useful. Workshops included what to look for when purchasing a computer; a presenter from the United Kingdom who discussed accessible set top boxes and audio description; and my co-presentation of using technology in your job search. By the way, you can visit my co-presenter’s website at Ms. Jansen offers some cogent tips on career management. In about a month, all presentations will be available online. Visit for further information.

A definite highlight of the conference is the vendor exhibit. This year there were representatives from companies and entities such as Humanware, HIMS, Social Security, Brailler Depot and more. We also have a table staffed by CCVIP personnel to provide information on our programs and services.

Documentation is offered in Braille and interpreters for the deaf are engaged. Every effort is made to keep participants informed of the schedule. We did learn, however, that there was no large print and that participants would have found that helpful.

One important feature I believe that sets our conference apart from others is our ability to offer sighted guides to whomever might need one. This service was previously overseen by a dear and cherished volunteer, Ms. Louise Tropp, who passed away earlier this year. I was asked to take the lead and it was my pleasure. The majority of the guides are students of Baruch’s Honors Program. They were attentive, enthusiastic and eager to learn.

During lunch, awards are given to companies who have made a conscientious decision to employ individuals who are blind, visually impaired or deaf-blind. This year an award was also given to the family of Ms. Tropp.

At the end of the day comments were solicited from the participants. Conference planners listened intently and copious notes were taken as all strive to make the next conference even better than the last.

Feature Writer Alena Roberts – Peter Sagal’s Experience of Being A Sighted Guide During Last Week’s Boston Marathon

Last Monday, tragedy struck our country. But despite that tragedy, we should celebrate the thousands of runners that participated in the Boston Marathon, including the 40 visually impaired runners. One of those runners was William Greer who had the honor of being guided by NPR’s host of “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” Peter Sagal. I had the opportunity to get Peter’s perspective on being a sighted guide for the first time.

Q: How did you get started as a sighted guide and what inspired you to do it?

A: Honestly, it was just because I was asked by Team with a Vision, the charity that was organizing fundraising runners for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. The invite came at a good time for me–I wanted to run Boston this year, but hadn’t done anything to arrange it. And moreover, I really wanted to try something different for my 10th marathon than just run that distance again for my own purposes. Helping somebody else do it seemed like a great solution to my lack of motivation.

Q: What are some of the challenges of being a sighted guide and how did you adapt to overcome those challenges?

A: Very few. For one thing, William Greer, my “guidee,” is a very self-reliant, capable man, and has run 6 marathons prior without a guide. He has very limited vision, but was able to manage a lot–such as avoiding runners in front of him–without my help. He also is a great runner and a fine fellow, a good companion for 26 miles and change. I really enjoyed every minute of it.

The only “challenge,” if it was one, was a sense of responsibility for him. It’s one thing to screw up your own race, but another to screw up somebody else’s. But as I said, William was so capable and self-possessed, I realized very early on it would be more pleasure than duty. At the end of the race, as the bomb went off, and William was feeling tired from his effort, I felt that sense of duty more, to see him to safety, but again, he helped make it very easy to help him.

Q: Do you plan to offer to be a guide to another runner in the future?

A: I’d love to. It really was the most enjoyable race I’ve ever run. I’d be happy to help William again, or take on the challenge of guiding someone who is completely blind.

Q: How has your role as a sighted guide changed your perception about the blind community?

A: Well, it’s hard to say. I think it’s a mistake to take any one example of any “community” as a stand in for the whole. William is a guy who has triumphed over an accident that could have and almost did kill him, and has accomplished things–like seven marathons, and qualifying for Boston–that most sighted people couldn’t dream of. I don’t think that has anything to do with him being visually impaired; I think it has to do with his character. I’m sure there are other brave, motivated people in the blind community, and I’m sure there are some jerks. Not that I’ve met any, yet… I will say this: anybody who might think that being blind or visually impaired keeps you from leading a rich full life should meet William.

To read more about Peter’s experience, please follow this link:

Letter from the Editor – Week of April 22, 2013

Hello everyone,

I hope you all had a nice weekend. It looks as if Spring is trying to make an appearance more and more every day–which sounds good to me, because a frost-covered car was not what I expected to find this morning.

This week I will be releasing the 2013 Poetry Supplement. As in previous years, it will be sent out separately from the magazine, so be sure to check for multiple messages from us in your inboxes today.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who took the time to write me your fantastic messages of support and encouragement in response to last week’s announcement of my departure from my role here as editor. Your kind words continue to reinforce my belief that I have been extremely lucky to have the opportunity to publish this magazine for you over the past few years. I wish nothing but the best for each and every one of you in the years to come and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for welcoming me into this community and for constantly helping me make this magazine something that we can all be proud of.

This week I will also have the pleasure of introducing you to your new editor. We will kick off the magazine with his introductory letter, so I’ll let him fill in the blanks. Over the next week, I am going to be transitioning out of my role and you may begin to see his name in responses to your email. As such, I encourage you all to make him feel welcome and introduce yourselves so he can begin to get to know you.

That should cover everything for now. I hope you all have a great week.

Take care, and as always, thanks for reading.

Ross Hammond, Editor

Recipe of the Week – Orange-Carrot Bread

Submitted by Charlotte Willis


2 cups orange juice
2 teaspoons sugar
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup oil
2 teaspoons grated orange rind
2 teaspoons salt
4-1/2 cups unbleached white flour, divided
2 cups finely grated carrots
2 eggs
3 cups whole-wheat stone-ground flour


Heat the orange juice to lukewarm (105-115 degrees). Sprinkle in the sugar and yeast, stirring to dissolve them. Set the mixture aside for about 10 minutes or until yeast is bubbly.

In a large mixing bowl beat the honey, oil, orange rind, salt, and 1 cup of the white flour. Add the yeast mixture, carrots and eggs and mix the ingredients thoroughly.

Beat in the whole-wheat flour and 3 cups of the white flour. Spread the remaining white flour on a board or work surface, turn out the dough and knead it, working in the flour until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 to 8 minutes.

Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning the dough to coat all sides with the grease. Cover the bowl lightly with plastic wrap and set the dough in a warm, draft-free place until it has doubled in bulk, about 1-1/2 hours.

Punch down the dough and divide in half. Form each half in to a loaf (the dough will feel loose and somewhat amorphous) and place the loaves in greased bread pans (9x5x3 inches). Cover the pans loosely with plastic wrap and place them in a warm place for another 30-40 minutes or until the loaves have doubled in bulk.

Bake the bread in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.


Reader’s Forum – Week of April 15, 2013

For your convenience, all Reader’s Forum submissions are separated by the ## symbol.

In response to Feature Writer Ann Chiappetta – Left at the Curb, George wrote:

I’ll tell you my experience back in 1998. I had been on a long preaching tour visiting several churches over a 3 week period of time. I caught a flight out of Las Vegas and arrived home to Houston at the Hobby Airport at about 11:00 AM on a Saturday morning. I had my guide dog “Buck” with me. I located my luggage and went outside to where the cab lineup was. I went to the first cab in line which is the accepted procedure. The cabby met me and asked me in broken English where I wanted to go. I told him the address. He then told me that I would have to give him specific directions to get to my destination. I told him this was out of the question and that I did not know! He also informed me that I would have to put something down so dog hair wouldn’t get in his cab! I retorted, “Are you serious?”

I then proceeded to the second cab in the lineup. An “attendant” suddenly appeared and went to the first cabby and read him the riot act for not taking me (the fare) I stood by, smiled, listened and enjoyed the conversation between them. She asked me for my input and I told her. The cabby then turned to me and offered to take me for 1/2 the fare. I refused and told him that I wouldn’t go with him if he took me for free. The attendant made him go to the back of the line–about 12 cabs back. I smiled and got in the second cab and had no problem getting home.

One other time when I was in Boston I needed a receipt for my cab ride. The cabby gave me a receipt about the size of a postage stamp. I believe he tried this tactic simply because I was blind. I refused the postage stamp receipt and held out for a more suitable one.

Perhaps taking a quick picture of the cab’s license plate and/or the driver and then notifying the cab company might help with this issue.

Rev. George Gray


Mary wrote in to say:

I recently applied for retiree benefits via the online Social Security web site, and thought I’d mention a few things about how accessible the site is. I hope this information will help some readers out there.

I took early retirement after working for almost thirty years, and as the time to apply for benefits approached, I was a bit nervous. I imagined that I’d have to dig out old W-2 forms and go through all sorts of research and difficult questions. How wrong I was!

I took a quick look at the site in January, and found that Jaws could read it very easily. I also use a Braille display, and Braille access was great. I created an online account because there’s a lot of information you can access via your account, including the annual statement that Social Security sends you.

One of the first things I discovered when applying for benefits was a page that lets you determine what format you want to receive notices that are normally sent to you in standard print. Blind people can receive information in standard print, Braille or large print with a standard print copy attached), or via CD. The CD can contain either audio, or a Microsoft Word document. All formats are sent via first class mail.

I found the retiree application very easy. The advantage of using the online method is that most of the required information is available, so you usually won’t need to fill in your income or employer history. The questions were clear and the process was painless. I could even set up direct deposit so the amount can be deposited into a bank account.

As I navigated the site, I noticed that supplemental security income (SSI) was mentioned, so I suspect there’s a way to get more information about this and other benefits.

There are a number of books on the NLS BARD site that discuss social security in detail. If you’re a BARD user, you can type “social security” as a search term and find some helpful information. There are a couple books in Braille and at least one audiobook.

I’ve probably missed something that needs clarification, so thanks in advance to other readers who have other pointers to share in Readers Forum.

Op Ed with Bob Branco – They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To

Growing up, I remember the simple analog radios with dials on them which would allow you to change the station, adjust the volume, or set the band. They were not complicated at all. If you were blind, you did not need sighted help selecting your favorite radio station, setting a visual clock, or going through tons of visual menus in order to find the setting you wanted. Not to mention, the most important thing about these radios were that they rarely broke unless you broke them yourself.

Three years ago, I purchased a beautiful weather radio from the C. Crane Company. It’s a desktop radio which features A.M., F.M., and weather. It is also designed so that a blind person can select and program favorite stations on four different bands. The radio is extremely digital and very modern. The other day, I unplugged this radio from one electrical outlet, and proceeded to plug it into another outlet. As a result of this very simple task, the circuitry inside the radio blew out, leaving the radio totally unusable.

Aside from the fact that modern radios apparently blow up quicker than “ancient” ones, I never had to ask for sighted help when I owned an ancient radio. Now it seems as though I have to ask the sighted more often than I ever thought I would, even if I buy a simple radio from a local department store. It took a lot of effort on my part to find this blind-friendly weather radio, but it practically blew up in my face, along with the money I invested in it.

If this was the only example of a newer version of a product having a much shorter shelf life, I wouldn’t be writing this column. Many, many products were made much better years ago than they are today, despite the conveniences, or lack thereof, that the modern versions offer. It’s bad enough that the blind have to spend many more dollars keeping up with the sighted, but it’s even worse when the product doesn’t last long, and we have to buy it again if it’s something we use in our daily lives.

We must continue to write letters and make phone calls to these companies so we can let them know the problems we encounter in this area and not simply stand for products with such meager longevity.

Has anything like this happened to you? Tell us your story in the Reader’s Forum.

Feature Writer Terri Winaught – Anne Sullivan Macey – Making A Difference: Part Three

Both Anne and Helen Keller began working as advocates, counselors, and fundraisers for the American Foundation for the Blind in 1924. Although there is no indication on their website ( as to how long Anne worked or the amount of money she raised, her contributions were significant as indicated by the Foundation having a museum dedicated to her.

In 1930, Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania offered Anne an honorary doctorate to acknowledge her work in deaf blindness. While Helen–who was also offered this opportunity–was eager to accept, ever the modest individual, Anne was uncomfortable receiving this honor. By 1931, however, Helen Keller was able to convince Mrs. Macy to accept Temple’s honorary degree.

To say more about sensory impairments, Anne Sullivan had been vision impaired since birth, but surgeries throughout her life had improved her vision. By 1935, though, Anne had become totally blind, though no reason was given for this total vision loss.

On October 20, 1936, with Helen Keller by her side and holding her hand, Anne Sullivan Macy died in Forrest Hills, New York. This dedicated tutor and advocate was 70 years old.

A current legislative aspect of Anne Sullivan Macy’s legacy is the Anne Sullivan Macy Act, now being considered by the United States Congress. If passed, this law would strengthen the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEEA) passed in 1975 by mandating assurances that persons who are blind or vision impaired receive an appropriate and comprehensive education to include not only the usual academics, but also career education, life skills, and varied transitional services from high school to adulthood. For a list of specific provisions, Google “Anne Sullivan Macy Act.”

Throughout her 70 years of life and due to her lasting legacy, Anne Sullivan Macy was truly a woman who made a difference in the lives of the visually impaired community and serves as an inspiration to everyone.


Feature Writer Steven Famiglietti – Individualized Admissions Program: Part Three

After talking to my mother on the phone near the end of that first week, the other students decided to throw a party. None of us were of age to drink and that wasn’t what anyone planned to do. We just all hung out in one room, played loud music and danced for a while. It was such a good time and so nice to again feel included by my peers. After the party started to wind down, I went back to my room and started to rest in bed when the other students had a water fight in the hallway. We were up on the fifth floor of the dorm and we had no air conditioning.

The next day, it was Friday and we had a shorter day due to a different schedule. We had a morning library course, for two hours, followed by lunch. After lunch, we could go home for the weekend if we desired. The library course was so boring. Dean Wilds would frequently accompany us to classes and other activities. She was like a mother, watching and guiding us with a tough but caring hand. During this class, many people fell asleep and those of us who were awake, we were barely awake. The professor excused us for a break and Dean Wilds shouted, “Hold it, no one is moving anywhere, this business of staying up all night partying will stop immediately. You’d all better stay awake for the rest of this class and when it is over, go home and get some rest. We still have four weeks left of this program. If you can’t handle it, you can leave today and don’t come back.” None of us ever knew how she found out about the party and the water fight, but somehow she knew our every move, even after she went home at night.

People did calm down after that first week and we learned how to manage our stress by working when we had to work and sleeping when we had time to sleep. In the evenings, I worked with tutors to improve my math grade. I had to work hard to pass math so that I would be able to start a new math class in the fall and not get behind. When I do work on paper, my nose has to touch the page in order to see the work. But this makes it impossible for anyone to see what I am writing. So, she said, “I can’t see what you’re doing and I don’t know what you’ve done until you lift your head to show me. I don’t understand you’re thinking, so before you write anything down, tell me exactly what you are thinking. This is going to help me to know your thoughts and we can correct them before you put them on paper.” This process helped me tremendously because she was able to catch me before I made a mistake. It also helped the other students to work with me. It became the culture of our tutor group, everyone would talk out their math problems and I think we all learned from each other. This was likely one of the most helpful things that happened to me for the entire program.

I can’t stress enough how social I became during this program. The other students knew I had a computer and all of us had to write papers for our English classes. Each night, after study hall, I would stay up and type someone’s paper for them. I work best if someone reads to me so students would bring their paper to my room, read it to me and I would type it for them. This helped me to get to know people and they got their work done. I also would make up my own daily weather forecast and post it on my door. Everyone would come up to my room and read it so that they knew what to wear for the next day. People would even stop me on campus and ask me if it was going to rain so they knew to be prepared. When I would enter the dining hall or one of my classes, the students would shout out to me and ask me to come sit with them. It was nice to feel included and everyone had a great time.