For most of us, palm trees, tropical weather, and the Pacific Islands easily evoke visions of beach life and vacation, but for one Gallaudet student, these visions evoke a passion for the people of
Daniel DiDonna had a choice of two countries to do his internship: Kenya or the Marshall Islands. His career consultant, Daniel Veit, challenged him to
go for the less explored, an area where Gallaudet students have interned. So, Daniel picked the islands.
"I knew it would be challenging.
And that was exactly what I
The senior communication
studies major wanted to learn
a different culture, a different
lifestyle and that meant sleeping
in a simple hut made of mud,
palm tree leaves, and sticks.
"I slept on palm tree mats, ate
with my bare hands, and learned
that what meant the world to the
natives are family and friends."
During his 12-week internship,
Daniel taught 30 students from
three different island/atoll
schools, but primarily 18 deaf
high school students on the
Majuro Atoll, the capital.
"The people of Marshall Islands
use both Marshallese and
English language; however, with
the Marshallese language, it’s
structured in a way that you have
to learn how to speak it before
you can write the language. Deaf
children are at a disadvantage
when it comes to learning the
native language," said Daniel.
In the mornings Daniel taught
American Sign Language (ASL),
English, and independent living
skills daily to students and ASL
to teachers and parents three
afternoons during the week.
"I had to think about how to
empower the teachers there with
the tools to teach deaf children.
Instead of giving trees to harvest
from, I hope I gave seeds for
them to grow, nurture, and
Every morning enroute to the
school, he rode on what he calls
"one soothing street."
Blogging from the Pacific,
Daniel wrote, "…on this drive,
I can see everything in Majuro.
One Soothing Street
Seeing both sides of the sea, the
Oceanside and lagoon plus the
morning rush of the Marshallese
as people go to work or shop for
breakfast food..the sun is way up
in the sky with clouds beaming
across the sky. I find myself
gravitated to the beauty of the
Pacific life. I start my mornings
and end my late-night workdays
with the 20 minute drive,
reflecting upon my own life and
what had happened earlier that
day…. Quite a soothing street!"
Daniel hopes to go back to
the Marshall Islands after
graduating this May under
WorldTeach — a Harvard
University program, similar to
the U.S. Peace Corps. He wants
to work with Gallaudet’s Career
Center to ensure a steady feed
of Gallaudet’s student teachers
to the Pacific Islands, especially
the Marshall Islands. After
that, he says, he’ll explore a
possible career in international
development and settle in
another country and pursue
Seth Gore, Class of 2011, contributed
to the article.