Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Seeing Without Eyes

You already know about this guy, but I think he deserves a post, especially since we’re trying to document all these amazing people.

Ben Underwood was born with normal, healthy, beautiful brown eyes. However, at the age of two, he developed Bilateral Retnoblastoma, a rare cancer of the eyes that occurs only in infants. By the time he was three, doctors had removed both of his eyes in order to stop the cancer, rendering Ben completely blind.

After Ben awoke from his final eye surgery, his mother was as terrified and emotional as her baby boy. However, she explains, “I took his little hands and put them on my face and said, ‘See me, you can see me with your hands,’ next, I put my hand to his nose and said, ‘Smell me, you can see me with your nose,’ then I said, ‘Hear me, you can see me with your ears, you can't use your eyes anymore, but you have your hands, your nose, and your ears.’”

Ben and his family have never let a lack of sight be a hindrance on Ben’s life. As a result, Ben has taught himself to use echolocation. That’s right, he “sees” by hearing. With this amazing ability, Ben is able to run around the house, up and down the stairs, play basketball, ride a bike, and even swim with his dolphin buddies. Ben always says “I’m not blind… I just can’t see.”

This full-length documentary about Ben explains how echolocation works and shows him enjoying everyday life – most notable is the fact that he is always smiling! Also, check out his homepage for more information and news updates.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


This post is a little different from the last two posts. My inspiration is from a book. I was introduced by one of my professors to a graphic novel called "Persepolis". Within a day, I finished the first volume and craved to read the second. Within the next couple of days, I was able to lay my hands on the second volume and finished that, too, in one sitting.

"Persepolis" is an autobiography of Marjane Satrapi about her childhood in Iran during the 1970's and the 1980's. Satrapi's progressive family was involved with the communist and socialist movement in Iran, and "Persepolis" describes her experiences during her stay as she witnessed the corruption and oppression in the Iranian government. At the age of 14, she was sent to Vienna, Austria, because her parents feared for her safety and her future. But she soon returned to Iran for college and struggled to balance the two cultures in which she grew up. Satrapi currently resides in Paris where she launched her career.

"Persepolis" is a beautifully written and drawn graphic novel. It documents the life of an outspoken and hard-headed child during the revolution very well. I highly recommend having a go with it. It's very humorous and touching. Additionally, this novel set has recently been turned into a feature-length movie and is being shown at selected theaters around the country.