Valuing Diversity sessions held in Term 2 of the second year were among the Personal and Professional Development (PPD) sessions that I was really looking forward to join. From the sessions’ guidelines and introduction, I was well informed that these sessions are designed to train us to become doctors who appreciate and know how to practice a patient centred approach competently. Following the sessions, we are expected to be able to appreciate the diverse nature of human population and to deal appropriately to prejudice.
A lecture entitled ‘Equality, discrimination and justice’ was a kick-start to the sessions, which was then followed by two workshops of the students’ choice in the following scheduled weeks. The workshops I was allocated with were Deaf Awareness and Working with Vulnerable People. I had chosen these two workshops because I think that these themes are among the most interesting and important themes that I wanted to have further understanding, to empower me during this 'short' 5 years medical training. This week, I had Deaf Awareness workshop. I really enjoyed the workshop. It was so interesting and interactively delivered.
The workshop was conducted by a deaf instructor. Interesting wasn’t it? The instructor used sign language, specifically British Sign Language (BSL), throughout the session and it was not an hour or less session, but it was three hours. It really lasted for three hours! Three hours ‘lecture’ delivered by a deaf person, using sign language and I didn’t even know a single sign of BSL other than how to say ‘I love you’.
Wonderful wasn’t it?
Anyway, if you still remember, we had a lecture with him before in our first year, Howard Beck, and there was a qualified translator assisting him, but I can’t remember his name. The same translator helped him this time around as well. He made the signs sound.
There was one wonderful fact about these two persons that amazed me and inspired me as a student. The translator was actually a student of Howard Beck few years back, as we are now. He was so inspired by a lecture given by Howard Beck that he attended which then motivated him to learn BSL, be a qualified translator and here he is now, respectfully able to help Howard Beck in delivering lectures to more students more effectively and interestingly. I was so overwhelmed to know this. He made me realized that no matter how big or how small our contribution is to the society, we would never know how big or how small it impact can be until we do it.
Howard Beck was born deaf which means he can’t speak as well. But he made the different! He became a teacher, not to the deaf, but to the people of profound hearing. He tried his best to make himself capable of doing it and he succeeded in his own way. I believe that he had encountered so many things to be where he is now. The translator is one of the examples of his success and I believe there are more people that he has managed to meet and change. Meeting him and knowing how he had changed the translator and his life, was a wakeup call for me. I had always been so inferior deep down in my heart. I had always thought that others are better than me in many aspects. Even though, I think I managed to appear as confident and brave to certain people, I know that I do have some level of inferiority complex in me. This really affected the way I value myself and my self esteem. I know I can do more and better in my life, but being inferior to others, a simple example can be when I am among the locals (British), I would always try to keep myself out of sight, be reserved. By right, I know that I should not have these feelings, as I am special the way I am. Even a deaf person can inspired other people.
Well, Howard Beck, I would say, really had opened my eyes, to appreciate myself more. Peoples’ views towards us would not hurt us until we take them into account and reacted negatively towards them. Yes, Howard Beck, I can do better! And you, my friend, who is now reading my entry (edited one, of course), we can do better in our life, as medical students, future doctors, Malays and most importantly as Muslims. With all the scepticisms many people have towards Islam, made me to be more reserved when I am with other people, regardless whether they are Muslims or not. I am aware that some people do view those who are trying to improve themselves as better Muslims negatively. You would be viewed as conservative, not up to date, too obsess with your group of ‘good people’ and many more. Being worried of these had always kept me quiet of my views and actions.
All praise to God that He made me to realize this.
I believe that in this life, there is more than just to be a good doctor who can treat the patient with wonderful treatment and professional attitude. I would want to help as many people as I can, to be able to appreciate their lives and if possible to know the Creator of humankind. Howard Beck who is disabled, had inspired a ‘normal’ person to be more useful to the society and gave him a respectful purpose of life. We could have done better if we believe in ourselves and firmly believe in our principles. To be the kind of doctor I that I wanted to be, I need to have the self-esteem, I need to believe in the wonderful teaching of Islam that I wanted to show to others and live with the teachings truthfully. This is how Howard Beck, has motivated me to be firm with my beliefs more and he had also showed me that we need to think big and great to be big and great. Well Howard Beck, other than believing in ourselves, I would complete the principle with, ‘believing in God, that He would value every single thing that you do in order to search for His blessings, no matter no small or big it is’. This is the most wonderful lesson that I got from the session and it is not only important for me to keep me motivated to be a doctor, but also helped me to appreciate myself more a human and a Muslim.
That is a long account. There are a few more reflections on this session that I would like to share. Hopefully, this would not be long.
During the session, we learnt about lip-reading among deaf people, sign language and how medical services had been delivered to the deaf communities over the years.
To learn from someone who had been living and learning from something that we had never gone through is very different. Sometimes it is somewhat easier to understand and appreciate the experience. Indeed, it was wonderful. The way Howard had described the lives of deaf and vocally disabled people was so thought provoking, especially regarding the lip-reading perception within the society. Stereotypically, people would think that it is easy for deaf people to lip-read. The truth is...you know what?? It is way so hard!! Believe me! I've tried it. We (the whole class of 20 students) had tried it! We were divided into partners, one was asked to say certain words without making sound and the other was asked to lip-read. It was awesome but hard! There were several times where I could not even lip-read a single letter that my partner was trying to say. Letters without sounds are hard!
There was one thing that he said following the activity, which again stroked me.
He said "We tend to take for granted things that we have"
and indeed we do.
and indeed we do.
As a Muslim, I was really touched by his words. We had always been asked to be grateful in our lives. How many times in a day that we felt so grateful to the gifts that ALLAH has given us? How well have we expressed our gratefulness?
There are so many things that God had gave us and yet we still are denying His full rights as our Creator.
Following the session, my friend told me similar thing.
“ I am so grateful that I have wonderful and functioning legs…”
She said this as she was late to class this morning and she was able to rush there on time as she ran.
“I can’t imagine my life without legs…” she continued.
“Yes, my friend” I replied but keeping the words only to myself. I just didn't want to say anything. I didn't want to interfere or add anything towards her feeling. Let her be overwhelmed with the feeling of gratefulness. This is the kind of feeling that I wanted to instil in my future patients so that everyone will live better lives no matter what they have. Being able to be grateful in lives can change someone live. Gratefulness will keep us optimistic, strong and persevere.
There are so many GIFTS that we have been given in our lives. So many...countless.
This week’s Valuing Diversity's workshop was so meaningful. There so many inspirational lessons that I have learnt which reminded me to the principles of life that I sometime forgotten.
"Gratitude is not the result of things that happen to us; it is an attitude we cultivate by practice. The more we are thankful for, the more we will find to be thankful for." - Alan Cohen (Gratitude - A Way of Life by Louise L. Hay and Friendspage 32)
This session really has helped me to clarify what I wanted to be in the future, what I wanted to achieved and hopefully, what I have learnt will keep me motivated and inspired thoughout the challenging times in the future, as a medical student, a future doctor, and most importantly as myself, a Muslim. God will always be with us as long as we want Him to. Never lose hope