Suzanne Sad Refaey Esmael from Egypt is studying business management at Whatcom Community College as part of the Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI). Earlier this fall, Suzanne attended a talk at WCC from Steve Ferreira, a motivational speaker who was born with cerebral palsy but was determined to make the most of his life. He has participated in several national sports championship, medaling in shot put and weight lifting, among others. Ferreira travels around the country encouraging students to view disability in a different way, and to live with a positive view of life. Here Suzanne reflects on the ways in which the U.S. accommodates people with disabilities.
Steve Ferreira, from my point of view, is a miracle. Steve was born with cerebral palsy and when he was 15 years old, he decided he wanted to try his best to make a difference. He faced many barriers, but he was determined. His story impacted me because the people here in U.S.A care about disabled people and giving them their rights. In Egypt we have started to care about disabled people and changing our culture towards disabled people, but disabled people still face barriers because we haven’t created facilities to make their lives easier.
What I appreciate in American culture is that they respect disabled people and give them priority. Here in the U.S a person with disability has opportunities to earn income and often decreased medical expenses. According to the United Nations website, they mentioned that the U.S. federal government spends more money each year on cash payments for disabled former workers than it spends on food stamps and welfare combined.
I would say American people with disability are luckier than disabled people in other countries. I have learned that there are no excuses and nothing is impossible. There’s no diagnosis called disability, they are not different but just they have special needs. People with special needs have special gift to live with and a lot of healthy people can’t do what they do.
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.