Monday, December 9, 2013

The Deaf Leadership Forum: "Inspire One Another"

Monday afternoon of December 2, 2013, the first Deaf Leadership forum, which was hosted by the Philippine Federation of the Deaf (PFD) in partnership with the Discovering Deaf Worlds (DDW), was held at the School of Design and Arts Amphitheater,  SDA Building, De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde. PFD invited several DDW Filipino and American delegates to be panelists of the event. The aim was to share the experiences of the cross-cultural exchange in EMPOWER Program of DDW, and the inspirational messages of leaders to the audience. 

Eleven American delegates of DDW visited the Philippines as part of the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs cooperative EMPOWER grant, which supports cross-cultural capacity building exchanges projects from November 15 - December 4, 2013. This is in partnership with the Philippine Federation of the Deaf, Inc. (PFD).

DDW American delegates who visited the country learned many splendid things, resources, and cultures, and they were also able to understand the disability rights issues in the Philippines. During the Deaf Leadership Forum, the delegates shared what they learned during the learning sessions, deeply discussed, and contributed ideas on how to  improve education, organization, and leadership for the Deaf people and community in the Philippines.

Davin Searls, Executive Director of Discovering Deaf Worlds, delivers a key message for the Deaf Leadership Forum.

Leonides Sulse, Chairperson, Center for Academic of School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies, De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde

According to Leonides Sulse, "Proactive leadership is about being an empowering leader, a coach and about establishing strong performance standards, the leader who can lead and support with heart to the community and actively work together with actions on their goals."

Rey Alfred Lee, President of Philippine Federation of the Deaf, hosted 
the Deaf Leadership Forum.

Jamie Munro, Past President, Advocacy Services for Abused Deaf Victims and Manager of Programming Operations, Harris Interactive. 

Jamie Munro said in his message, "as an EMPOWER participant, this experience has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me. The US team is comprised of nine amazing individuals with diverse backgrounds. We really teamed up well with the Filipino deaf community members, especially with the leaders from the PFD group. Together, I have come to realize that the fight for deaf human rights and accessibility is truly a universal cause and we are in this together. We in the US may be further along, but we also need help from our friends around the world to advance their cause as well. Also, I have found the Filipino Sign Language to be a truly beautiful language that stands on its own. It is unique and separate from the American Sign Language that we use in the States. In fact, it has made me more appreciative of different languages and the need to preserve our cultural right to our own language."

                  Allie Rice, Youth Programs Coordinator, National Association of the Deaf

Yvette Apurado-Bernardo, Vice-President of  Philippine Sports Federation of the Deaf and Filipino Deaf Women’s Health and Crisis Center

Patrick Bryan Ablaza, Core Team of DDW-PFD, active supporter of the Philippine Federation of the Deaf Youth Section, said "The Philippine Federation of the Deaf (PFD) works to have equal human, linguistic, cultural and legal rights for Deaf people in the Philippines. But these cannot be attained by PFD alone. We need your help and support. Stand up for your rights now."

Heather Harker, Director of Consulting and Executive Transitions, Third Sector New England and Board Member of Gallaudet University. 

Heather Harker also shared her sincere thoughts. "The two key points that either happened during the forum or in the discussion afterwards are the following: 
  1. the Philippines should not simply replicate and copy ideas from other parts of the world (whether it be a deaf education curriculum or something else), rather, it is ideal to learn from what has worked best in different places around the world and then create something NEW that will work best for the Philippines and the unique history, culture and situation in the Philippines; and 
  2. the best thing about a cultural exchange is the relationships that emerge from the experience because it is social capital that strengthens deaf communities and organizations around the world, and relationships 'live' beyond any program or grant. Hope that helps! and I guess one more thing is that there are things that the Philippines is doing better than the US and I hope to bring some of those ideas back to my work and deaf community here in the US. One example of that is the dedication of the leaders and also the collaboration and consideration of other cultures' leadership," she said.

George Lintag, General-Secretary, Philippine Federation of the Deaf

Julie Schafer, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

Raphy Domingo, Coordinator, Education Access for the Deaf, Center for Education Access and Development, said, "Being a leader is not about having the same person on top but having the same vision and passion for the Deaf community." He emphasized that leaders must inspire one another and support PFD's goals.

Sarah Houge, International Development Worker and Certified Deaf Interpreter, and Christie Ong, Contract Administrator, Defense Contract Management Agency, are sharing about their reflection and learning in the cross-cultural exchange.

Rowella Tanjusay-Par, Deaf Faculty and Mackie Calbay, Deaf Advocacy Coordinator are also sharing about their reflection and learning in the cross-cultural exchange.

SDEAS Silent Steps showed the Filipino dance "Niyog-Niyogan"

Successful DDW Filipino and American Delegates 

Lastly, Deaf Leadership forum emphasizes the important words to the audience that they must keep in their minds and hearts,"leader does not only lead but must also be willing to serve the Filipino Deaf Community." Those who serve towards people change, who nurture the values of the Deaf children and youth, and who give positive attitudes and influences for the issues and awareness, make good Deaf leaders; they guide groups and communities and encourage teamwork as well. Their strength as leaders is not for fame nor power but for being great role models. 

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." ~ John Quincy Adams

Article by: Mackie Calbay
Deaf Advocacy Coordinator
Edited by: Marina Viktoria De Los Reyes

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