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Voyage to the Island by Raija Nieminen
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Voyage to the Island

by Raija Nieminen

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A fascinating memoir in many respects. The author, a deaf woman from Finland, spent several years in St. Lucia in the 1970s teaching at a school for deaf children. The deaf were treated very badly in St. Lucia and it was assumed they couldn't learn, so Raija's students came to her having never learned sign language or lip-reading or writing, and thus being very difficult to teach. Raija wrote about the school in compelling detail, as well as her own difficulties being deaf in a hearing society. She was more fortunate than most because she had been born with good hearing and gradually lost it until she became totally deaf as a young adult. But she could talk and read lips because she had once been able to hear.

Raija also sort of adopted a deaf street urchin, who stayed at her house for over seven months and was treated like a son. I think the boy might have had Reactive Attachment Disorder. He certainly was a great challenge -- from what she describes, I think I would have wanted to strangle him very quickly.

I think this memoir could be of interest to a lot of people. It provides a great description of deaf culture and the challenges of deafness, of being a foster parent to a special needs child, and also the island culture of St. Lucia. ( )
  meggyweg | Nov 21, 2010 |
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