Youth Grants: Colorado Exchange Program

Aurora was a recipient of a 2018 Youth Grant to assist with her exciting exchange program to Colorado. This gave her the chance to pursue a lifelong dream. Aurora shares her story below:

“On July 22nd 2018, I took off on the adventure of a lifetime. I was heading to America, well to be specific, I was heading to Lakewood Colorado, the sister-city of my local area, the Sutherland Shire to complete a six-month educational exchange, the Suthlake Student Exchange. I was about to head off into the unknown and live with a family I had never met, in a country I have never been to and experience things I never thought I would get to – scary but ever so exciting.”

“I lived with the Hoskins family, and their adorable Golden Retriever Louie! I loved getting to know Becky and Alan, and their daughters Sarah and Katherine. Attending Lakewood High School was like living in an American High School movie; it was everything I imagined it to be!”

“Living in Colorado presented me with a plethora of opportunities that wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my amazing parents and family, and the youth grant I received from Deaf Children Australia. Without Deaf Children Australia’s youth grant, my lifelong dream of participating in this exchange program wouldn’t have been possible.”

“Living by the picturesque mountains for six months is something I can’t even begin to articulate. Now, I am a beach lover, so giving up my beach time for six whole months was tough, but waking up every morning to a view of the Rocky Mountain National Park was a trade I was happy to make.”

“Throughout my exchange, I experienced so much, literally so much. From attending five different concerts, experiencing a real-life rodeo, seeing the ski field mountains in both the winter and summer seasons, holidaying in both the Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, Homecoming week, American Football matches, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday Sales (A cultural shock one would say!), a white Christmas and exploring states such as Florida, New York, Wyoming, Montana, California and Idaho – I feel like I did it all!”

“My favourite memory from my exchange was my trip to the Rocky Mountain National Park. I saw epic snow, and well completely freaked out with happiness. I got to see the Aspen leaves in “Fall” AKA Autumn and hear some amazing sounds. I was able to hear Elk bugle – their mating call.”

“For me, a lot of my favourite memories are attached to being able to hear a new sound. In my case of sensorineural hearing loss, I don’t know if I will ever go completely deaf or if it will stay the same – this is all unknown. So I have made it my life goal to experience as many sounds as possible. Thus hearing the Elk bugle, is a sound I didn’t think would be possible for me to hear, it was the most unbelievable experience for me.”

“America is a land full of new sounds, from the buskers on the subways in New York, concerts played in a stage space that had been carved into a rock, to the hiss of an alligator in the Everglades National Park or the cheers from the sidelines of a high school football match, living in America gave me the ability to hear so many new and wonderful sounds.”

“This exchange taught me a lot. From learning a little American Sign Language to realising that I was the one with the accent, not all the people around me! I have come back home with so much new knowledge about the world that surrounds me, oh and the travel bug; where to next?”

“While I was in Colorado, I got the news that back home I was elected to the YMCA Australia’s Young Women’s Council. I am now connected with 15 other young women from across Australia, keen to make a difference in the lives of others.”

“Now I am back home and get to share the wonders of Australia with an American Exchange Student, Sarah. I look forward to opening her ears to the new sounds she will get to experience in Australia, even the 5am wake up calls from the local Kookaburras!”

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