When Time magazine was interviewing students about the protest at Gallaudet over the president, I was interpreting, and then they asked to interview me. It was very brief, but they did ask me why I was there as a hearing person, and what my view, as a hearing person, was of the woman with no knowledge or experience of Deafness or sign language trying to become president of the university. As far as I know, I was the only hearing student interviewed, and I was definitely the only one quoted. I don’t remember the exact quote (it was in 1988), but it was something like “There’s nothing wrong with hearing people being here, but it’s not to take care of Deaf people. If we don’t want Deaf people to be leaders, we need to re-examine why we are here.”
I’m not the only hearing person who has had the experience of being an undergraduate at Gallaudet, but there have been precious few of us. They were admitting about five a year starting in 1985 or 86; I went for the 87-88 academic year. After the Deaf president protest, the school was flooded with applications from Deaf students who might not have considered college before, or grew up in mainstream programs, and might have struggled with a hearing college before dropping out (it was very common; some eventually transferred to Gallaudet), and international students who didn’t even know about Gallaudet before. The hearing student visiting program was suspended for a while. Last I heard, it had been reinstated, but I don’t remember exactly when.
Something straight out of a “very special episode” also happened to me once: when I graduated from high school, my drama teacher gave me the bracelet that her drama teacher had given to her when she graduated from high school.
Also, I’m not one for writing fan letters, but I have written two in my life, and I got personal answers to both, pretty impressive, because they were to pretty high level celebrities. When I was 17, I wrote to Lillian Gish, and she answered. When I was in the Army doing training, I actually wrote a response to an essay of Stephen Jay Gould’s, about the reason no terrestrial animal has evolved wheels. It was pretty cheeky, because he had compared wheels to feet, and I said that if you looked at all the parts of an engine it took to move the wheels, feet and legs were just the drive train, like a person on a bicycle. But he wrote me back and said that I was write; however, he was responding to questions from a number of readers who had asked him many time over the years why no creature had evolved wheels “instead of feet.”
Lillian Gish and Stephen Jay Gould have probably answered other fan mail personally if they answered mine, but I don’t know anyone else who has gotten personal answers from famous people when there wasn’t some “hook,” like a relative or experience in common, or the writer was also somewhat famous. Meg Cabot answers my emails, but we were friends in high school, so that doesn’t count.