Hey everyone! This is your friendly OMOD project coordinator here with the latest in OMOD news. Over the past six weeks, we took the OMOD program on the road yet again – this time to San Antonio. We partnered with the Center for Higher Independence (CHI) at Providence Place to provide an OMOD class to participants of the CHI program and members of the San Antonio community at large. We ultimately served eight participants in our program mostly from Providence Place. As for classroom assistants, we assembled an all-star team in Austin OMOD graduates Jennifer
McKinney and Nissi Salazar, OMOD project facilitator Nicole Cortichiato, and veteran OMOD videographer and long-distance driver Nic Hester. Providence Place provided us with a rotating cast of staff members to make up the difference, and we even reached out to our original instructor extraordinaire Chris Strickling in Izamal, Mexico for her suggestions and revisions, and she truly was the secret weapon, ingredient, magician, story whisperer – I think you get the idea – of the class.
The San Antonio program was much like any other OMOD class, only with the addition of hellish traffic and Schlotzsky’s on the way home. Whereas in our El Paso and Houston classes we contracted with local writing instructors to facilitate the classes, this time, with San Antonio much closer than the previous two long-distance programs, we decided to commute back and forth to San Antonio for six consecutive Tuesdays. Although we were present and on the ground for every class and thus eliminated the extra, often unreliable layer of Skype to reckon with, the San Antonio class did present its own set of challenges – as does most any class anywhere – but through creative problem solving and advice from OMOD staff members near and far, we were able to surmount each challenge with relative ease.
In typical OMOD style, the final class showcase evoked honesty, warmth, and humor through the telling of real personal stories capable of upending the dominant narratives told about people with disabilities. We heard stories about transformation, likes/dislikes, vacation adventures, pets, acting, bullying, friendship, aspirations, and independence. As OMOD instructors and staff members, we can never anticipate exactly how the audience will receive the showcase stories and we rarely expect which specific presentation tips or strategies will resonate with which participants – for some it’s using hand gestures or eye contact; for others it may be losing their scripts in favor of remembering key points, or incorporating photos or other visual media to supplement a presentation by someone with difficulty reading or slow speech – but as long as we all show up, remain patient, and keep our faith in the process, we almost always succeed. Our showcase might have been on the shorter side, but it packed a punch I’m sure the audience will not soon forget!
Thanks again to Providence Place for hosting our OMOD class and to our myriad assistants, staff, and volunteers who made it possible!