The Watercooler: Life Stories by Deaf Youth

Held monthly at the Basement Theatre, The Watercooler is a platform for people from all walks to tell their stories in front of a live audience. With the support of the NZSL Fund and working with Merge NZ, a Social Enterprise aiming to normalise New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL), The Watercooler held an event to share stories of Deaf youth.

The Watercooler: Life Stories by Deaf Youth saw Monari Falepeau, Eric Matthews and Jon Tai-Rakena share their experiences of being young and Deaf. They were expertly supported by host Zachary Best. The evening had discussions around what it was like growing up Deaf, how they adjusted to living in a predominantly hearing world, how they found rites of passage like going to school and learning to drive, and what their hopes and dreams are for the future of the Deaf community and NZSL.

“We had a diverse line up of storytellers from different ethnicities, religious beliefs and sexualities – we love that we were able to give these voices a platform within the Deaf community,” says Todd Waters, The Watercooler co-producer. 

53 people attended the event live, and the show was also videoed to be shared on social media. The video of the event has now had over 6100 views. You can view the video on The Watercooler Facebook page .

"All in all, The Watercooler: Life Stories From Death Youth was an empowering, connecting, educational, social event that showed once again that Deaf people have amazing stories to tell, and NZSL is a beautiful way to tell them," says Todd.

Feedback from the event:

“Wow! Great watch from start…” - Christina

“Well worth watching this... The Watercooler and Merge NZ teamed up again. Handwaves to all involved, especially to those sharing their stories and experiences.” – NZSL Users Dunedin

“Oh my God! Love their stories... Wow!!” - Morne

 “The Watercooler Deaf Edition was a great event in Auckland allowing Deaf youth to share their experiences and stories.” – Merge NZ 

 “This is the Watercooler- Deaf Edition focussed on Deaf youth. It has interpreting voice overs so you can listen (while seeing what signs you can pick up!). A great insight into the lives of Deaf youth and their experiences.” - Merge NZ to the New Zealand Sign Language Student Club

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