By Sue Lichtenfels
“Live, Laugh, and Love” has become a popular philosophy for life. Whenever I hear this phrase, I automatically add a fourth “L” word I have come to realize is essential for a successful life: Learn. I truly believe that if your life is going to be meaningful in any way, you need to keep engaging, achieving, and improving; in other words, learning. When we stop learning, we limit our opportunities and settle in to a lifestyle that threatens our independence. As an adult, my greatest opportunities for learning have come through my interactions and involvement with PCB.
Every day I learn facts and information to add to my knowledge base. Many members post interesting and useful articles to the PCB-L listserv that highlight new products, research break-throughs, job postings, and advocacy issues. I especially enjoy attending PCB and ACB conferences where I learn about current and future efforts toward accessibility across all aspects of life. I like to learn what my rights are and what recourse I have when they are violated. PCB discussion calls are always a fountain of knowledge as we talk about our favorite devices and share resources.
The opportunities to learn are endless, especially those based on personal and practical experience. Often, I learn tips and tricks from others through discussion calls and personal conversations. It’s amazing to be able to ask someone who is also visually impaired, “Well, how do you…?” I’ve learned about parenting, cooking, advocating, and so much more by exploring the experiences of others.
Being part of such a supportive group has emboldened me to step out of my comfort zone time after time to learn a new task. For example, when I worked on the fundraising team I learned how to put together a cookbook, coordinate an auction, and administrate all aspects of a six-month raffle. Within the Conference Program and Planning Team, I learned how to create vendor and participant registration forms, negotiate hotel contracts, and put together a weekend’s worth of conference programming. I’ve learned how to prepare an organizational budget, give public presentations by using my assistive technology, post content on a website, and so much more. On the lighter side of my learning experiences with PCB, I’ve directed and acted in a play, wrote a tongue-in-cheek commercial for Enlightosight, the wonder drug that eradicates misperceptions about the blind, created a children’s activity sheet for awareness, and composed lyrics to a PCB parody of AC/DC’s T.N.T. song. I could go on and on about the skills I’ve learned and experience I’ve gained by volunteering with PCB.
Another way that I have learned through PCB is by gaining the intangible knowledge to help me improve myself. With every successful project I have taken on, I have learned to be self-confident in my abilities. I have learned to take on responsibility, to meet deadlines, and to accept other’s feedback. I have learned to observe others and identify traits in them that I want to learn to emulate to be a better leader. I have learned not to be afraid to share my ideas and passion for PCB. I have learned to ask for advice when I am unsure and to delegate when I feel overwhelmed. Through my observations and interactions, I have become a better leader and a better me.
While my school days are well behind me, I strive every day to learn new things. I have chosen to actively participate in PCB because it affords me so many opportunities to learn and grow. Whether they are strategies for independence, blindness resources, the latest news, marketable skills, or personal enrichment, you too can actively pursue limitless learning opportunities in PCB.