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Young Volunteer in Kenya: Norma Morán’s experience

Sometimes experienced professionals don't want younger people's ideas. Norma Morán explains her experience as a young volunteer in Kenya.
Screen shot from video clip in which Norma Moran explains her experience as a young volunteer in Kenya

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Young Volunteer in Kenya

Image Description: Norma Morán is signing to the camera throughout the video clip.

Transcript: “Another consideration to have; Age. I just shared a story on my being viewed as a girl. Also at another time, I observed some things when I worked at a deaf school. I noticed older teachers’ resistance to my ideas, feedback, and activities.

“I have learned not to take it personally because of our age difference. They have not experienced a younger teacher almost “telling” them what to do. Younger teachers respect their elders.

Navigating the Age Gap

“What helped my case is I identified an older teacher who seemed sympathetic and supportive of my goals and enlisted them in my plans along with building a relationship and providing an opportunity for feedback. That way, we were able to build a partnership. The older teacher then was able to help me to get other older teachers to “buy in”.

“For example, I wanted to paint the KSL alphabet in the prekindergarten classroom but the teacher was not receptive to the idea. I had already successfully lobbied the teacher in the nursery class to allow my older student, a talented artist, to paint the alphabet. So I asked the nursery teacher to chat with the prekindergarten teacher about the importance of KSL alphabet for the students. The nursery teacher indeed went ahead and spoke with the prekindergarten teacher. The result was that I got the preK classroom painted!

Lessons for International Volunteers

“It is always important to keep age consideration in the back of your mind while planning your work. Observe the traditional relationships between the older and younger and follow the cues from your observations. What you see, you can then build on it. Always observe before jumping in.”

You’re a young volunteer working abroad. And you have many great ideas! What do you do when your older, local colleagues don’t want to listen? Watch Norma Morán explain her experience as a young volunteer in Kenya.

The short video clip here is originally taken from a longer, 20-minute webcast by Norma Morán. Watch the full webcast, “International Volunteer Work: Considerations entering a community overseas as a Deaf woman“.

We also posted another short video clip from the same webcast, focused on Norma Morán’s experience as a proud Latina woman in Kenya.

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