Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Hearing loss considered

As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, I have lost much of the hearing in my left ear. In some ways Senior Flierl Seminary is a great environment for someone with a hearing loss. It is such a small community that every adult knows I have a hearing problem and are good about repeating if necessary. 

This has also given me some new insights.  I sometimes have trouble hearing students in the classroom, especially when rain is coming down on the metal roof. I think the most frustrating time is during church, including our daily 
chapel.The women are not allowed to sit in the front rows, (we sit in 
the back right hand side) so I can't get close enough to always hear. 
The fact that I still struggle with Tok Pisin adds to the challenge. 
Fortunately our students are trained to work in environments without 
microphones, so they generally know how to speak loudly.

There are some interesting differences in how the Germans versus the 
nationals respond to my loss. In Germany, like America, quite a few 
people have dulled hearing due to noise exposure. Several people have 
compared their experience to mine or told me about friends that wear 
hearing aids. The nationals (people from Papua New Guinea) are much more puzzled by this loss. In a culture with very few engines or music 
amplification, adult onset hearing losses are less common. Also since 
they die younger, fewer develop old age hearing loss. They are much more used to ear infections and ear drum injuries, so expect the doctors to be able to do something. Especially when I came back from Australia, they assumed I would be cured. I think some of them expect me to be cured when I get back from the US and home leave. Cure is unlikely, but I may come back with a hearing aid. I think people will be quite intrigued by one.

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