The annual Spelling Bee for the Deaf is a BIG event in Belize. Many of the children practice the over 300 words for 2 months. Many of the parents get involved and help their child practice. Last Wednesday Deaf students from schools in Cayo, Toldeo, Belize, Orange Walk, and Corozal Districts came to Belize to see who would be the top Deaf speller. Many others made the trek including hearing classmates, Deaf classmates, former winners, fans, and parents. It was enough to fill a gymnasium.
These are some of the "junior" spellers. They are ages 7 to 9.
Omica Chun from Toledo won the senior division (ages 10 -14). It brought tears to my eyes because her father was so proud of her. His joy and pride were spilling over. Omica is 14. She goes to a regular ed. program since there are no classes for older deaf kids in Toledo. She studied the words all on her own (without teacher help). Her parents speak Mopan Maya and know some English but they speak Maya at home. So this amazing girl jumped all those barriers to learn to spell 345 multi-syllable words and to be the first Fingerspelling Bee winner from Toledo. Awesome!
Brittany interpreted what the hearing people said; the prayers, instructions, how many points each person has, if they spelled it right, etc. I was a "judge". I watched the spellers and said if they spelled the word correctly.
Once you have won the selling bee you cannot compete in the same division again. Sulmi won last year so she was just a fan this year. The kids had a lively hour and a half ride to and from Belize. It's a fun (exhausting) day that we look forward to every year.