My Perfect Family: The Fergusons Part 2

Last week we met the Fergusons, a family of five who communicate using NZSL. Here, we join the Fergusons on their trip of a lifetime attending the World Federation of the Deaf Congress — in Paris.

After three years of planning and saving, the Ferguson family have gone to World Federation for the Deaf (WFD) congress in Paris, France. It is an important event to them for a number of reasons. 

Zoe has always dreamed of going to Paris and now she is there she can’t wrap her head around it.

“Coming here to see the Eiffel tower is kind of weird but in a good way, sort of unreal but real at the same time.”

“Coming here to see the Eiffel tower is kind of weird but in a good way, sort of unreal but real at the same time.”

Zoe, her dad Oliver, and youngest brother Carter are deaf. Her middle brother Elijah and mum Bridget are hearing and can use New Zealand Sign Language.

The three-week trip via London is a chance for Zoe to give Europe a test-run before she decides to join the Frontrunners program in Denmark after leaving school.

She is shadowing the current youth president of Frontrunners and family friend, Mark Berry and looking to follow in his footsteps.

Mark’s role includes planning travel, teaching students about media and linguistics and creating conversation around Deaf Rights. He also works with the youth sector in WFD and around the world.

Zoe looks over Paris from a balcony
Zoe has been dreaming about going to Paris for a long time.

17-year-old Zoe has recently become interested in advocacy and is working to bring together Deaf youth in New Zealand.

Bridget is there to present ‘First Signs’, a unique New Zealand signing course. 

She was very nervous, but felt it went well as people came up at the end to ask questions about how they could implement it in their countries.

For Oliver, who is the president of the executive board of the New Zealand Deaf Foundation, the trip is an opportunity to pitch the country as host for the next congress in 2023.

“I’m nervous and excited. We are the only organisation and country with a full week celebrating New Zealand Sign Language.”

The Fergusons representing New Zealand at the World Deaf Congress.
The World Deaf Congress is a family affair for the Fergusons.

Unfortunately for Oliver of the four contending countries, Korea won. Oliver was disappointed but had to remember the driving force of the project.

“Supporting WFD is the priority, whether you win or lose.”

Yet he is still proud of the progress of the New Zealand government. He believes they go from strength to strength with improvements in the Deaf sector.

For Zoe, this trip has only boosted her confidence about the Frontrunners course and she is excited to look into applying for it.

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