Adena Wa.

I went to the Carlisle house with Jenny and Justin. I entered the house and Peanut immediately came up to me and asked us our names. I remembered her from last time; she was always extremely friendly and inquisitive. Peanut then asked me to go in the other room with her to put up Christmas decorations. She showed Jenny and me the storage room where all the decorations were kept. We brought over one set of lights and started to tape them on the window. Peanut distributed the tape and talked about President Bush. She seemed to know quite a bit about what was going on between the US and Iraq, she talked fluidly about current bombings and talks between the countries. When I asked her what she thought President Bush, she let out a long high-pitched laugh. She said she hated him; but quickly said she just wished the whole world would just get along. Then Peanut got some Christmas cards and wrote one for Jenny and then one for me. Then, I went in the kitchen with her and she introduced to me two of her friends. They all talked about Christmas, and how they love pumpkin pie. Next, i went out with Peanut to keep her company while she smoked. She talked about a Christmas poem she had written. It was all about peace on earth and equality to all people. She said she didnt like Christmas because it reminded her about how everyone is fighting around the world. When it got too cold, we went inside and sat on the couches and talked to her friend Ed. When I told her I was from Japan, she became very interested and asked me all sorts of questions about the government in Japan. Then, she wrote a Christmas card and told me to give it to the Prime Minister. Christy then came and talked to us about this guy Matt who “she was hot for”. Apparently he drives the bus that Peanut takes everyday and Christy gave some chocolates and a note with hearts all over it for Peanut to give to him. I had class at 3 oclock so i told them I had to leave. Peanut gave me a huge hug and said please come back soon, I like you.
This experience at Carlisle House was a lot of fun. When I first walked into the house, I was definitely nervous. I looked around and it seemed like everyone was just sitting on the couches and doing nothing. When Peanut came up to me, I felt relieved. She reminded me of a kind grandmother. She kind of took me under her wing and showed me around. When we were talking while putting up Christmas lights, the conversation was extremely interested. I was very impressed that she knew so much about the news, apparently, she watches it every night. She kept on making comments about how she just hoped everyone would just get along and be treated as equal. It made me sad when she said that because I thought she might have been indirectly referring to the way that she may feel that she is treated unequal to others. When Christy was talking about the boy that she thought was “hot”, I felt like I was gossiping with one of my friends. She looks very young, she is probably in her early 20’s, and everyone else in the house seemed much older. But apparently, Matt is younger then most of the people. It was very cute when she talked about him and how she gave him little presents, apparently you can find love at the Carlisle House. It was really cute.
When Peanut was talking about inequality, I thought about almost everything we had discussed in class this semester. I especially thought about all the essays we had read in Extraordinary Bodies, about the stereotypes tied to having mentally or physically disabilities. After having talked with a lot of the people at Carlisle House, I realized that they all have something to say. A lot of them are compassionate and kind; I do not know how many times I was offered a piece of pie or a cup of coffee. The previous notions of the “circus freaks” where people with disabilities are scary or beastly were definitely not present from my experience at the Carlisle House. All the people that I talked with could carry on a normal conversation, even about things I had no idea about, such as politics. The stigma that mentally disabled people are unable to participate in a “normal” society is definitely not correct.

Prior to going to the Carlisle House orientation, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. After going to the location for the orientation and getting an idea of what the organization was about, I had a better understanding of how this experience would fit into our class discussions. I expect the experience will be extremely positive for me. I have never been exposed to interacting with people with mental abilities before, but I think it will make me understand firsthand how stereotypes are not always true.
Upon going to the orientation, Stephanie told us that originally many of the people there were very hesitant about allowing Dickinson students to volunteer. Apparently there was an incident last year where someone at Carlisle House was spit on by people who were in a car with a Dickinson College bumper sticker. This horribly ignorant act gave many the perceptions that Dickinson students were snobby and downright rude. The first batch of students who volunteered proved to be otherwise; therefore Stephanie has continued to allow it. One way in which I hope to contribute is to help counter the thought that all Dickinson students are misinformed and ignorant.
During the orientation I noticed a woman making magnets. She was extremely proud of them when I asked her about it, so I hope that I can help her with it in some way. Also I noticed that a lot of people were just sitting around; I hope that I can encourage them to do something together like play a game or play some pool. All of them were extremely friendly and helpful.
I thought it was extremely interesting that the employees of the Carlisle House are the “patients”. This therefore allows the people to hold responsibilities and help maintain the facility. During the orientation, many of the people were very proud of their individual jobs. I think there is a stereotype that people with mental disabilities are incapable of doing pretty much anything; Carlisle House shows that this is not true at all.
I do not foresee any problems that could be encountered in the Carlisle House community. Even though I probably shouldn’t be, I am still a little bit scared that I might feel uncomfortable during a certain interaction. But, it is my ignorance that I think that people with mental disabilities have attacks or shouting outbreaks because I have never been around them before, so I know that my experience at the Carlisle House show that this isn’t true. All in all I know my experience at the Carlisle House will be very positive.