Stacey Valle is a deaf traveller who lost her hearing at the age of two due to recurrent ear infections. She enjoys filming, taking photographs and learning about different cultures and languages – such as Mandarin Chinese. Though she is deaf, she does not think it’s a barrier to travel the world. Over to her:
A bit about myself
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. I’m Mexican-American and love Selena. I’m always open to learning different cultures and languages, including different sign languages. I can be shy and socially awkward at times but will really warm up once I become more comfortable. Travelling has been helping me with that too! I enjoy trying some different thrilling sports, although I’d be scared! Hang gliding is one of them. Ah, I’m a huge fan of Harry Potter. I don’t suggest you ask me why I love Harry Potter, because I’ll just keep rambling on and on.
When and what made me fall in love with travelling
I honestly first thought I’d fallen in love with travelling as a child when I was visiting Mexico growing up; however, I realise that wasn’t really the case. I fell in love with travelling when I visited Hawaii with my family at the age of 18. I was shocked that there are other people living on the other side of the world, just living their own life.
I mean, of course, I see people living in Mexico. However, it didn’t cross my mind that there are many diverse human beings in many other countries around the world until I see it myself. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to travel around the world. So, it got me more intrigued and thought what else is out there? I wanted to learn more about different cultures and learn from other people.
What made me want to start my blog Deafinitely Wanderlust
One of the two goals is that I want to inspire the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community that we are capable to travel, regardless of how society perceives them – or even how they perceive themselves.
Just because we don’t have the ability to hear, it doesn’t mean that we cannot travel. We are so much more than just not having the ability to hear. Sure, we will face several obstacles, but we have resilience. I want to also share several stories and tips from the Deaf perspective. We do not only face language barriers but communication barriers too.
My favourite destination
Seoul, because of its lively, vibrant environment and its culture. The food is amazing there, I absolutely love their street food. I also love the Deaf community there, and how friendly people are despite being Deaf. Especially the vibe in the Hongdae area is wholesome. I love how people will stop by and relax to listen to musicians in Hongdae.
My thoughts about relationships – with family and friends – and travel
In the beginning, my families and friends were very supportive. However, as time went along and the more I travelled, their support became less than what I had hoped for. So it is not always easy. I still try to keep positive and keep travelling because it’s my passion.
My guilty pleasure food when I’m travelling
I’m quite obsessed with Boba Milk Tea. Although it’s not really food, I often try to find my way to look for boba milk tea if possible. Oddly, however, when I travel through different countries, my guilty pleasure changes from one food/drink to another. Japan: ice cream. Taiwan: boba. Thailand: tangerine juice. Costa Rica: Smoothie.
My advice for other people across the world – Deaf and hearing – who might be afraid to travel on their own
It’s not going to be easy to say, “I’ll buy a ticket and just travel on my own.” For some people, it takes time. By taking baby steps – such as travelling with friends first and then starting on their own. However, if you do know yourself or find yourself disliking travelling alone, don’t feel pressure to conform to others who travel solo. What important is to explore the world for your personal growth and even contribute back to the world by sharing your knowledge, help, etc. Because it’s your journey, not someone else’s.
The most significant life lesson I learned along my travels
I learned so many things from travel but the one ultimate lesson is to appreciate every opportunities and privilege you do have. I have learned so much about the Deaf community there and how their struggles there are quite different from our struggles in America. Even though we all face oppression throughout our lives, there are some privileges that the Deaf have that, not many others do.
I also learned one simple life lesson from this Costa Rican man who loved sand so much. He didn’t necessarily need to explain how to enjoy life. His pure love for his country and sand taught me about loving and appreciating the simplicity in life, the simplicity that we often take for granted. He rolled himself in the sand, laughing, smiling, telling me “Life is beautiful”. and telling me to have gratitude, to be in the moment, to live in the moment, and to not forget you’re surrounded with. That very night was meaningful and powerful; maybe not to some people but it sparked enlightenment. So since then, when I have some bad days, I thought back to that night and remind myself what I’ve learned.
Stacey Valle spoke to Mohammad Zaid of Travel Secrets
S. Marlene Valle
Stacey Marlene Valle is now an influencing digital content creator on Instagram. Primarily focuses on travel tips and experiences challenging our perspective about deaf travellers and community.
Featured video credits: Deafinitely Wanderlust