It is incredibly easy to take things for granted. When put under a certain perspective, even the most mundane thing can become a miracle. This is one of the thoughts that struck me when I attended the Taste of Perkins event at Perkins School for the Blind a couple of weeks ago. Established in 1832, Perkins has been a leader in educating and supporting the blind. The Taste of Perkins event, which is now held every year, is a phenomenal evening of exploring a world that many of us don't think about very often, a world without sight.
Although this may sound bleak, the incredible minds at Perkins have engineered a vast array of hi-tech products which give people who are blind access to everything. From 'talk to text' programs that translate books and journals, to verbalized science experiments, the sky is the limit. This was what made the evening so special. Perkins is all about teaching their students to be courageous, take risks and live life to the fullest! A silent auction and a raffle were also on the agenda for the evening and Hors D'oeuvres were served all throughout. However, my absolute favorite part, was the blind tasting.
This part of the soiree took place in a beautiful concert room (did I mention just how beautiful the campus is!? It was like being in Harry Potter). What made the room really special were the students who were playing beautiful piano pieces for the guests. So how did it work exactly? Well, you were blindfolded as soon as you stepped into the room and a volunteer would guide you to your seat. It is truly amazing how much your other senses will perk up once your sight has become compromised. Just walking to the table I felt like my ears were growing in size...and working twice as hard.
Once seated, we were given a red and a white wine to taste. I was very impressed when Renee announced that the White was a Chardonnay...my palate is not quite there yet. Next we were given a plate with four different items. Going from our left to right, we were instructed to eat the bite-sized food and try to guess what we were eating.
Again, as with my hearing, my taste buds were abloom as soon as I put something in my mouth. I was very proud to have guessed the nature of the first item (on the skewer), which was a ginger pickled beet. The second number was a Japanese dumpling with a chicken broth and mushroom filling. We all got it was a dumpling, but the filling evaded us slightly. What was incredible was watching some of the Perkins students themselves taking the taste test. One little boy chewed on the pickled beet for about 2 seconds before promptly announcing that it was a ginger pickled beet....he could not have been more spot on! The third item was my favorite and really had my taste buds in a twist. It was a mix between a marshmallow and a meringue with a lemon topping. It was soooo good! Finally, we had a dark-chocolate covered, salted caramel. Again, Renee had this one in a heartbeat - we do love our sweets.
When you are blindfolded, you are so much more aware of what your other senses are feeling...your taste buds are literally having a party! Once the blindfold had been taken away, it took a couple of seconds for the world to come back into focus, but once it did, I was so much more appreciative of being able to use my sight to aid in everything I do. This, I think, was part of the magic of the event. Not only did it show me that students without sight can be just as able-bodied, independent and successful as those of us with perfect vision, but it also made me appreciate what I take for granted every day - the ability to see and observe the world around me.
Perkins School for the Blind is a very special place that will remain an institution and leader in the field for years and years. I am so happy I got to visit and learn more about it - there are many ways to support these students, including volunteering. If nothing else, it is worth a trip just to wander around the campus and learn a bit more about what is possible when you put your mind to it.