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A Final Reflection

nbarker's picture

 Grace in my Heart, Flowers in my Hair, a Mouthful of Shooting Stars: 

A final personal reflection on Critical Disability Studies: Theory & Practice


And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

-Mumford & Sons, "After the Storm"

 When I began this course, I had already become heavily embedded in disability as a field and as a culture. Since the Identity Matters 360, I’ve pursued a research fellowship in disability studies & anthropology, been to the Society for Disability Studies, gotten better treatment for my disability, and oh so many more things. I’ve grown so much as a person that it’s overwhelming for me to realize how much has happened in the year and a half since I last did a final reflection.

At first, I’ll admit, I was slightly disappointed about this course, because I had wanted to do an independent study, to design a course for myself essentially. However, this course was much more productive and different than I would have been able to design myself—my initial fears were not proven true, having a group of so many people who cared about the same topics, going through the same utterly new and different way of learning, has proven much better than I could have ever imagined. Having an intense, long time period around a round table, with everyone speaking freely and with kindness for each other. Even CCW, though it was quite a mixed bag for me in terms of experiences, proved to be quite an opportunity for learning. Much of it for me continued a process of being able to become comfortable with being uncomfortable, to manage adapting in real time. I was not always up to the task, but I learned by dancing into the gaps. I sought to contribute to the learning of everyone I encountered, especially in the class, as much as I could—a model of being each other’s guides through what was new territory for all of us. (In some ways, I may have appeared at first to have a more detailed map, when instead I had just as many new contours to find as anyone else)

I’ve changed and refined myself even more—much less of in the fire of struggle, as it was last year, but instead more confident in my abilities and with more of the supports I’ve discovered I need. I’ve seen the ways in which interdependence has to be practiced to make things work. Some things were very awkward, however. It’s strange for me to have become pretty expert at something, to know so much about disability as a topic from multiple perspectives. I never realized it much before, but people can be intimidated by enthusiasm—and one of my cardinal personality traits is passion. I seem to have developed a talent as of late for saying difficult things, and things that people aren’t quite yet exactly comfortable with hearing. I’ll need some time to get perspective on this experience, and I’ll be thinking about it for many more months.

I have so many connections to make, going forward. I’m realizing I have a lot more to say and explore—so I’m planning to start a blog, tentatively titled A Spoon(ie) Full of Sass. Several of us from the class are also planning to start up a Facebook group for people interested in Disability Studies, Medicine, and Allied Health Fields—something like Teaching Disability Studies for people interested in applying DS theory to the medical fields.

I’ve found for myself a codified voice, and many things more that I want to say. I became a more flexible reader, a writer more willing to take chances. I want to use what I’ve learned here in what I want to do going forward---keep this as a record for myself and for others in the future. I want to keep sight of all the things I’ve learned in my future practice as an Occupational Therapist. I want to contribute, to make the world a better place. I realize I do have new and insightful things to say and to do, as well as much to learn from so many people—especially including my classmates, past and future, but also nearly everyone I encounter is an opportunity to learn. I will continue to be embracing new parts of myself as ever I go.

I’ve changed so much since I began at Bryn Mawr. My motivations, but especially my scholarly life, and also my whole person, has both stayed the same at the core while developing more outwardly. I’ve realized not so much my original dreams, as realities that are consistent with who I am. I’ve been able to achieve, with help from my friends. Now, I can take all the theory I’ve learned, and apply it with boots on the ground. I’m achieving my dream of completing college, and emerging from it as a whole and developed adult, ready to go out and change the world.

And with that, I’m off to go ring the Taylor Bell.

New start…
In the end there is a
new heart, 
under there, beneath these
new parts...
Everywhere it is a new, new, new, new start
Now is the start…
-A Fine Frenzy, “Now is the Start”