While I am redhead, white-skinned and freckly, many of my brother and sisters are of Samoan descent.
My little sister Ka-Lani and I have had some interesting discussions about how it feels to be in between two cultures; her cultures being Australian (our mum) and Samoan (her father), mine being Deaf and Hearing.
I didn’t grow up with sign language. She didn’t grow up with any Samoan language. I didn’t grow up with any deaf friends. She was never immersed in any Samoan culture.
I often felt like an outsider growing up. Being the only deaf kid in my class, sometimes in the whole school, often led me to think something was wrong with me, that I was different, to low self-esteem and, at times, to depression.
Having others around who share similar experiences matters.
As a Deaf person who has used, loved, and continued to learn Auslan throughout my life, it was when I started studying the Diploma of Auslan (Deaf cohort 2018) that I was awestruck by how beautifully complex Auslan is.