WorldTeach volunteer Anna O’Brien (a second year volunteer at the Majuro Deaf Education Center in the Marshall Islands) is a proud teacher of 12th grader, Talianna Peter, a student at the Majuro Deaf Education Center. Last week, Talianna was asked to give a special speech at the opening ceremony in celebration of the International Day of People with Disability. Aligned with the theme for this year’s IDPD is “Transformation Towards Sustainable and Resilient Society for All”. According to IDPD, the 2030 agenda pledges to “leave no one behind”.
When growing up, Talianna saw distinguishing differences living in two countries: Hawaii and the Marshall Islands. Her interest was piqued when she quickly noticed that deaf people in the Marshall Islands were not receiving the same resources that she had been given in Hawaii. Hawaii has special protections for people with disabilities because of the American Disability Act.  As a deaf activist she states, “It is crucial for the deaf community to thrive and in order to do that, we need to educate ourselves as well as the government of the RMI.”
Talianna continued by saying, “Justice cannot be achieved without faith and like an activist that we all are, we need to come together as one nation to work toward a sustainable and resilient society for all.” This rings true for deaf people who have lived with frustrations on a daily basis in the RMI including limited support services and limited job opportunities.
Talianna is currently focused on making plans to attend Gallaudet University, the only deaf university in the world, which is located in Washington, D.C. She hopes to obtain a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics and a Master of Arts in Education. Then she plans to return and teach at the Majuro Deaf Education Center in Majuro Atoll.
The ceremony ended in tears and a hug from her excellency Dr. Hilda C. Heine, the president of Marshall Islands (pictured in the top image). Talianna has successfully touched our hearts and we will always remember this special day.