Last week I had two of the most amazing and rewarding days of my working life. And that is a tall order given I have had so many highlights over the past 20 years including spending a week on Necker Island, launching my business in Asia and launching a Diploma in Entrepreneurship and Innovation with Kaplan Singapore.
Last week in Perth , I launched HiddenGems with AccessPlus, our partner in WA for the program. It is a take on our YoungGems program, but this time designed for the Deaf and hard of hearing community.
To be honest, going into last week I wasn’t sure what to expect. Despite having had some training with some of the Auslan interpreters and being the author and creator of this program, and having delivered it time and time again, I was extremely nervous going into the week.
I take all of my projects and ventures seriously and with a high level of passion and dedication. This has felt different though to anything else I have ever experienced.
I knew that the pressure would be on with this program. Here I am a hearing person and not having had any former exposure to the deaf and hard of hearing community, yet delivering a program to the Deaf and hard of hearing. Essentially, an outsider coming in, to impart my knowledge, wisdom and mentor this group of individuals, who experience unique barriers that I could possibly not understand myself.
When I first met our cohort, I was nervous and worried about how they would accept me. Delighted to say, after signing initially to the group to welcome them and to communicate exactly how I was feeling – happy, excited and nervous, I was thrilled at how quickly I bonded with this inspiring group of individuals and how warmly they welcomed me into their world as their mentor for the next 12 weeks and beyond.
What struck me the most about the kick off of our program is the energy, enthusiasm and emotion in the room over both days. It was at times raw, truthful, beautiful, honest and real for everyone there – from the participants, the interpreters and for me and my team – somehow everyone in the room was acutely aware of how special this program and experience truly is – and it is only the beginning.
Being behind a program that is making such a positive difference already is mind blowing for me. With one participant travelling two hours each way to come to our classes saying that he wouldn’t miss it for the world and how much this means to him, to another one saying he didn’t want the classes to end, to seeing an interpreter tear up when we played a inspiring video about overcoming fear and barriers to meet your goals – everything so far has been incredibly moving.
I know this is only the beginning of this incredible journey. This is the kind of stuff that makes me want to jump out of bed and work as hard as I do.
Bring on Week 2 and the rest of the HiddenGems program.