The following is an article originally published on The Review, the official student publication of Northwestern University, Laoag, published with Dreza Mae Rentegrado's permission.
You see him as the typical student, walking along the corridors in his uniform. On free days, he goes to school in white polo shirt matched with a blue jeans and a pair of sneakers.
He follows the current fashion trends, eats at the cafeteria with his classmates, attends and joins school programs, gets irritated with a long queue at the Finance and, participates in class discussion.
What sets him apart from the typical student is that Alan Joshua Pedro is deaf and mute.
Joshua is a Computer Science student and the third son in a brood of five. Seeing him with a happy disposition, one would think he accepted his fate with open arms. He says he felt unlucky at that time. No matter how he tried to live a normal life, he could not avoid to indulge in self-pity.
But an ‘interview’ with him though not an easy task showed a positive Joshua who accepted his fate with open arms. The interview was quite fun and inspiring. One needs an extra effort to write down the things you want to ask and use some appropriate body languages but it is all worth it because you learn some things from him.
Joshua tells he found difficulty coping with school in his elementary days. New faces, new personalities and other things new to him seem difficult. Because he couldn’t deal with his new environment, his parents decided to let him stay at home for a year to be able to learn the basics. Thanks to his first and best teacher, his mom. She taught him how to lip-read and do sign languages. Thus, he learned how to communicate with the people around him.
To allay his fear that he might get hurt physically and emotionally, his parents enrolled him again in the same school but this time with his younger brother, David.
Joshua relates everything went smoothly. He adapted to his environment with the help of his younger brother. He felt he belong to the group because David was always there for him. And so, they both finished their kindergarten and elementary level at the same time.
Things changed when they entered high school. It was fine at the beginning of the class because he and his brother were in the same classroom. But when the result of the entrance exam was out, the students had to go to their respective classrooms based on the results of the exam. Alan Joshua and his brother had to separate.
The parents asked the school to allow them to be in the same classroom. The school authorities however were firm separate them so that each one of them would grow and learn things individually.
Joshua says he couldn’t accept it. He felt so unfortunate. There came a point that he questioned the Creator why in this world did He let him to have such disabilities. He felt bad about being different. He felt he is a big burden in their family. He got insecurities.
“There were also times that I got jealous over my younger brother ‘coz the girls I like couldn’t just like me too and worse, the apple of their eyes is David, not me,” Joshua relates.
High school was a tough phase to hurdle in his life. Joshua was too afraid to enter a new room without his brother. He was afraid he might get bullied. He pleaded with his brother to transfer from the Special Science Class to the regular section with him. He knew it was a tough decision for his brother to let go of such opportunity just for his sake. But because his brother loves him so much, he was willing to give up the chance bestowed upon him. By that time, their parents talked to both of them to get things cleared. The decision was to move David from the SSC to the regular section with Joshua.
But one sunny morning, Joshua woke up with the realization that he became too selfish. He felt guilty for his brother. He only thought of his self. He felt like he was a coward too for he couldn’t face the challenges himself alone. He also felt sorry for blaming Him about his situation. He realized that he should not have done that. Instead, he should have been more thankful that He gave him the give of life ‘peopled’ by beautiful individuals who love him and care for him.
He had realized that he is indeed special, not by physical terms but by his own character and skills that should be shown and proven, not being hidden and kept inside.
Thus, he asked his parents to just let him stay in the regular section and his brother in the SSC.
Staying in a class without his brother seemed to be very different with Joshua at the beginning. He didn’t know where to start and how to start a new journey alone. His brother wasn’t there to explain things for him. But as he went on, he remained firm and determined. He knew he had to stand his own feet to achieve his own dreams.
It was not easy for him to be separated from his brother. Bu because of what happened, he became somebody else, he became a better person. He came to know his self more. He found out his strengths and weaknesses and used these to become a better individual. He learned how to carry his own self in the midst of the crowd.
From the day onwards, he had companions other than his family. He became a part of clubs and organizations. Students came to know he is a good dancer. He was no longer the pathetic type, always belittled and pitted by other people. He turned to help those who were in need of comfort. When he graduated, Alan Joshua looked up with pride. He became the jolly, friendly and kind-hearted person to everybody.
Things didn’t change even when he got to college. Though there are few who still judge him, a lot of people do appreciate him for being a person who has a vision in his life.
“He inspires us,” his classmates say. “We know it’s hard for him to learn things related to programming and Java Scripts, but because of his friendly and determined character, we feel delightful of helping him work with the codes.”
In college, Joshua is an epitome of a responsible and productive person. He counts his education years with the dream of becoming a successful and a professional photographer and virtual artist someday.
“I know I don’t have the auditory and vocal capabilities. But I can’t isolate myself from that nightmare forever. Yes, I may have those dysfunctional pair of ears and oral skills, but at least I’m blessed with a flexible body and a pair of eyes which could see things clearly. This is also the reason I want to become a professional photographer and virtual artist – in that way, my sense of sight is on top of everything. And through pictures, I could express myself more,” Joshua says.
He could not hear things but he was at the Student Center during the Intramurals at the Cheer Dance Competition not because he was there to cheer for his team, but because he was there as a participant, a dancer of the competition with the goal of bringing home the beacon.
One may wonder how he danced well during the competition when in fact he couldn’t hear things. According to him, he could listen to the beat and as he does so, he would synchronize in counting to three. All he did during the practice was to observe keenly what his co-dancers were doing. Afterwards, he would then learn and try how to properly execute the steps.
Alan Joshua also joined the Speech Choir competition. He didn’t speak but he acted well together with his groupmates. This group placed third.
Joshua is a role model. He may have hearing and speaking disability, he has proven that acceptance of his fate can lead him to his dream and goals.
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