Harry Bi.

Laurie and I arrived at the Carlisle House around 1230PM. When we first walked in and hung up our coats and I observed that some of the members were taking part in singing Karaoke. I sat on a chair and introduced myself to Ron who was to my right. He told me about what songs he enjoyed singing karokee to and we discussed car racing for while. He informed me that his favorite driver is Jeff Gordon and that his father drag races at a race track in Mount Holly. Ron also told me that he used to race, but that he sold his car and that he would like to work as an auto mechanic, which he had done in the past. I was then introduced to Peanut, who was doing most of the Karaoke singing. She sang the songs Boardwalk, the electric slide, and others. I also met Mel, who was knitting at the arts and crafts table. Mel was also taking part in singing and dancing. She was a great singer. After being introduced to Mel and Peanut I went back and sat down and talk more with Ron. We discussed what he wanted for Christmas, hockey, football, what television shows he enjoyed ad he showed me a giant star that the members made. Ron then had to leave to pick up his Mom at work. He told me he would be back on Friday and that he would be making lunch. After he left Peanut wanted me to sing Karaoke with her, so stood with her and sang and danced. After a few Karaoke songs with peanut Laurie and I had to leave. I hugged Peanut and Mel and told them how much I enjoyed my time with them.
I think before going I was feeling a little bit nervous because I wasn’t really sure what to expect. But soon after I got there I began to feel more welcome and in talking with Ron I just attempted to look for something that we could have in common to talk about. I was surmised at all the things we had in common such as football (even though he likes the Steelers and I’m an eagles fan) as well as certain TV shows such as wheel of fortune. It made me happy to see that there were things that I could identify with. Something else I observed was just how carefree everyone seemed, especially Peanut. She seemed as through she couldn’t be happier singing and dancing. There was no fear in her of being embarrassed or different, she was just happy to be expressing herself. You could also see just how much she enjoys the Carlisle House. In comparison with something in my own life sometimes I go to a bar with some friends on a karaoke night. After we leave the bar everyone says how next week they are going to sing and how they wish they had this week, but they never do. I think that people who are “normal” have a fear of embarrassment and of being different, where it seemed like people like Mel and Peanut weren’t afraid to be themselves. I found them to be truly inspiring, I even sang and danced and felt like it didn’t matter how I acted I was accepted.
I think that based on my observations I really saw that these people are being something extraordinary through their differences. Not to say that people without disability aren’t unique, but I think that each person was using his or her difference to be something special. For example, Peanut seemed so thankful for everything that she had and she to really be happy with who she is. Rosemarie Garland discusses the dominant culture as being neutral and what is defined as normal doesn’t really exist: “If one attempts to define the normate position by peeling away all the marked traits within the social order at this historical moment, what emerges is a very narrowly defined profile that describes only a minority of actual people”(8).

Today I went to my second visit at the Carlisle House. It was a much quieter day then my previous visit. There was no karaoke like last time and it wasn’t as filled up. I think it may have been because it was Christmas time and the weather wasn’t very good. When I walked in I was happy to see Peanut and Ron, both of whom I’d met before. They both remembered me and seemed happy to see me. Ron was making lunch, which we discussed at our last visit and I helped him clean up. We talked more about some things we discussed last time such as the Steelers and the fact that he was getting clothes for Christmas. After helping Ron we went and played some pool with Peanut and Chris. Chris was telling about how he felt that some kids from Dickinson were snotty and stuck up, but that lately he has changed his mind and enjoyed meeting people from the college. After a few games of pool it was time for me to go. I thanked them and wished them a nice holiday.
I was surprised at how comfortable I felt there this time, especially because I went by myself this time. I really felt welcomed by the people I met last time and I enjoyed meeting some new faces. I think I learned that people who are different do many of the same things so called normal people take part in such as cooking lunch, playing pool, watching sports, spending time with family. Although I come from a much different background then most people at the Carlisle house its nice to see that we have things in common even though we are much different.
This visit made me think of Motherless Brooklyn when although Lionel has tourette’s he establishes himself as not being so much different from anyone else. He takes part in the same activities normal people do. I think by doing this Lionel defies stereotypes about disability just like this visit did for me. I think that I made a stereotype that people with differences can’t lead normal lives and I also think that Chris made a stereotype that Dickinson kids are stuck up. Its interesting how the stereotype goes both ways and I think both stereotypes were proven as incorrect during my visit today.

My expectations of this service experience at the Carlisle House are to take an active role in the organization and to learn more about people with disabilities. I think that this is a valuable opportunity because we have the chance to dispel many stereotypes about those with differences. I hope that the people there will be open and willing to engage with my fellow classmates and myself. I think that an experience like this requires patience and opened mindedness. Sometimes I think that I could fell uncomfortable because the people are different, but I think that’s something you have to move past to benefit from the experience. I have some experience working with those with differences and I hope to use that in my interactions with people from the Carlisle House. My twin brother, Zack, is mentally retarded and while he doesn’t have physical differences he is much different then a normal person. I’ve also spent time interacting with members of his class from high school who suffer from down syndrome and other learning disabilities. I think that growing up with my brother has implanted in me an open mindedness that will help me at the Carlisle House. I think that when interacting with people with differences its important to find things that they enjoy and engage with them in those activities. I hope that I can identify with clients at the Carlisle House as far as their interests and help them to learn something new.
I’m not to sure in ways that I could impact the agency personally since I’ve never been there, but I think bringing an excitement and open mindedness regarding the experience could help the organization. Maybe using some of my own interests such as my love for sports could be useful in interacting with members at the Carlisle House. I also enjoy playing cards and board games. Maybe I could take part in some of these activities with the clients at the Carlisle House. As far as prospective problems I think that sometimes people can be intimated in experiences like this because people are different and can sometimes act irrationally. It’s important to remember that these people sometimes don’t mean to do certain things they do and not to take it personally. If I can maintain a positive attitude even if something unexpected happens then I will benefit from this experience.