Day 218 - Amanda (8th person I approached)
August 06, 2014 - Just one of those days. Walking the seawall thinking I’d catch someone enjoying the sunset and willing to chat, was not happening tonight. The 'no thanks' came from a writer not interested, a computer worker too tired to look at my blog, an Italian tourist having dinner alone and not comfortable talking, a young woman with mythological name too shy to be photographed, and older gent who just said no, a woman who said it sounded interesting and asked me a few questions about me, then said she was too tired to chat, and a woman who thanked me but said she was having an emotional evening and this wasn't a good time. I had to work to find Amanda.
Amanda was standing just inside a transit station, using an electrical outlet to recharge her phone. She smiled when I asked her to chat and as I explained everything, she nodded and said yes all the way through. Amanda was born and raised in Crescent Beach, a beachside community within South Surrey, British Columbia (BC).
“I have one baby sister,” she said with a warmth that radiated.
“She’s two years younger than I am and we are the best of friends. She’s my buddy and my trooper. And no, it wasn’t always like that. My little sister was diagnosed with hearing loss as a young child. At the age of six she had seven percent (in one ear) and eleven percent (in her other ear) hearing remaining, which is legally deaf. She was born able to hear, so she speaks perfectly. Better than I do,” said Amanda.
“As a ten year old child, I was too involved in my own life to really understand what my sister was going through. She learned to lip-read and I learned sign language. It wasn’t a choice, it was a necessity. When she was sixteen, and I was eighteen, my sister had a double cochlear implant and her hearing improved to thirty percent. I still can’t imagine what it would be like to go through what my sister has. I had reached an age where I was able to realize how strong and determined she was. Even when her hearing improved she had to re-learn how to hear. Blindfolded to try to use her hearing and not rely on lip-reading. Not using sign language, which became like second nature for me. I’m so glad I learned sign language. It’s not taught in school and I’m the only person I know out of my circle of friends that knows how to sign. But the fact that I can communicate with others in this way is a gift. My sister has faced her challenges,” said Amanda.
Growing up in Crescent Beach, Amanda did all her elementary and high school in two schools.
“I had the same kids in my class all throughout elementary school. Then we went to high school and it was pretty much the same thing. In my graduation class, there were only about one hundred kids, tops. It was a small community. I’m still in contact with a couple of people from the early school years. Both guys, one friend is a guy that, even though we might not talk for a few months, it’s like yesterday when we do. The other guy is my best friend” she said. Amanda did well in school.
“I was able to be friends with people in all the different groups. I still had my own core group of friends, but I got along with everyone,” she said.
After high school, Amanda went directly to university.
“I knew that if I took time off, I might start to enjoy that lifestyle and having fun and knew that I might never go to university. I had to start right away. I’ve always had an interest in politics. I’m at SFU (Simon Fraser University) doing a double major in Political Science and Communications. I’m in my fifth year. I’m just going to always be in school and never graduate,” said Amanda, laughing. I might have believed her at this point.
“I work full-time, and do a full course load in the evenings. I’m President of my sorority and on the organizing committee for the Communications Frosh,” said Amanda. I asked her to explain what a ‘frosh’ is.
“It’s a planned event to welcome the new first year students to the university program. It’s a way to help them to meet other people and an opportunity to understand that communications is multi-faceted. We’ll have some speakers and organize some fun events to make it an enjoyable, educational and informative event for the new students. I just had dinner with some of the others on the frosh committee to work on the planning,” she said.
During an internship, Amanda had an opportunity to work for a government agency as part of her university program.
“I managed to work my way up and now am a full-time employee working in Corporate Communications. I don’t sleep more than three or four hours a night. I live in Burnaby now. I go to the downtown Vancouver campus as well as the Burnaby one. I work in Vancouver and North Vancouver. I spend a lot of time commuting,” she said. Amanda hopes to graduate in about 18 months time.
“I could have graduated in just over four years, but I’ve taken more time because of being so busy,” she said. Amanda will have completed her double major Bachelor’s degree in six and half years.
“That makes me feel old,” she says.
“I want to be able to jump right into the corporate side of communications. I’m not looking to grow with start-up. I want to hit the ground running with an established entity. I’m considering taking another program at BCIT (British Columbia Institute of Technology). They have a Marketing and Advertising course that is the best one going. In hindsight I maybe should have taken that first, and then gone to university,” says Amanda.
I asked Amanda how she manages to get everything done.
“I don’t really. I also work for an event company that does promotional events. So we’re working on a CD release party this weekend that will be at one club on Friday night and then another club on Saturday night. It all means I know a lot of people and I’m always really busy,” says Amanda, with her big, warm and personable smile. When this woman does graduate, look out world! #notastranger