So I’ve just got back from a two week ‘holiday’, seeing my boyfriend up at his home in North Wales! That’s right, we’re still going strong in our long distance relationship! It’ll be three years in August- time goes too quickly!
We did a lot of lovely things, like it was D’s birthday so we went out for a meal and some birthday drinks. I also went swimming with his little sister and we went to Manchester to meet D’s best friend who is also deaf.
Both of us were able to get a place on the NDCS Gearing Up Weekend in Cardiff. It was basically an introductory session about what it’s like to become an NDCS volunteer. D wanted to do this course as he would like to pursue a career working with deaf children in sports, so he felt the weekend would give him skills to help him for his future career. I just fancied going along with him for a nice weekend, but also to meet new deaf people. There was a talk on campaigning during the course, which is the job I’d love to do.
I was lucky to get a place because it was only open to people living in Wales, but as somebody else dropped out, I was able to go!
It was an early start that day, we had to get a train from North Wales all the way down south! When we arrived, D and I thought it would be a good idea to walk from the station to the Wales Millennium Centre where it was being held. Now… I don’t know if anyone else has experienced this, but is it just me, or are Iphone Maps just awful!? It’s so hard to tell the direction and which way you’re meant to go! The timings are terrible too… it said it was a 10 minute walk (actually 45 minutes!)
Eventually we made it! We were greeted by an NDCS volunteer on arrival who took us up to the training room. There were only 9 of us doing this course so I was quite surprised!
On the first day, there were a variety of different activities, from getting to know each other, to what makes a good role model. There were also aspects on safeguarding and health and safety. Like any deaf event, there were lots of different methods of communication going on and it was interesting to watch it all. As I grew up in a hearing society, being around deaf people comes as a surprise to me. The interpreters and NDCS volunteers were so lovely and made sure that everyone was included.
Lunchtime came and it gave us a chance to get to know the other young people on the course. D and I found out that we were the oldest ones there! I made friends with two girls, E and J. Everyone on the course struggled to grasp where I’m from, as I’m not Welsh! (I’m from the land of Norfolk!)
We had a fun packed afternoon, it included a mix from listening to the volunteers and Powerpoint presentations to group work and role plays! I love this kind of learning style because when I was at school, I used to get tired all the time from constant listening so it was good to see a variety of different teaching methods.
That night we were staying in a local youth hostel/sleepover centre, so at the end of the day, we all went there to drop our bags off. We had some free time where all the boys and girls went downstairs to the common room to play a game of pool. Later that evening, we all had a huge Chinese buffet meal at the local arcade centre. It was surprisingly nice, considering it’s not the type of place I’d go! We had a game of bowling with the NDCS volunteers which was fun to take part in. When walking back to the hostel, D and I got talking to a volunteer about our futures and he gave us both great advice on how to get where we wanted to be! It was nice to hear it from a deaf person, rather than a hearing person – if you get me?
When we got back to the centre, there was one last hour of free time before bed, so hot chocolates were given out while we played pool again! The girls and boys then went back to their rooms. As D and I were talking over Facebook, it was interesting to watch as D felt like a parent, being the eldest of all the boys! (having to calm them down and make them go to bed etc!) Whereas, us girls had a lovely chat about everything! E went to Mary Hare school and I explained to her that Mary Hare was where D and I met! Small world!
Funny thing I forgot to mention earlier, one of the volunteers at this event, was also at Mary Hare with us in August 2013 and I showed him a picture of our group and asked him if he remembered us? He was quite surprised to see us together in a relationship!
The night came to an end and everyone went to bed. Breakfast the next morning- everyone was tired so it was very quiet! When we got back to the Millennium Centre, the next set of activities started. The same volunteer we spoke to us last night led the morning session. He told us the story of how he travelled the world twice! It was quite impressive to listen to. The afternoon activities involved campaigning which was my favourite part of the whole course. There were two ladies from the NDCS Wales Campaigns team who gave a quiz on Welsh Government (tricky for me as I knew nothing, as I’m English!) then they spoke about what campaigners do, what they’ve done and what they were planning on doing. We had a group chat about transitions in education as they are currently campaigning for better transitions for deaf people. It was very interesting. Quite a few of us signed up to get involved with some campaigning, so it will be great to hear back from them!
Before we knew it, the weekend was over! D and I had a mad rush back to the station to catch our train. Overall, it was a great weekend and I’d definitely recommend it for anyone who is considering becoming an NDCS volunteer!
I must send my apologies for the long blogging silence… I felt as if I had writer’s block for a few weeks! If anyone has ideas of blogs, please do share them below in the comments! I’ll try my best to post, it might no be as often as it used to be though!
I hope everyone had a great Easter holidays! Back to work for me though… 😦
Love E x