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The Story of My Life

by Helen Keller

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What impact did the children at the institute have on Helen?

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I think that the impact of seeing the children at the Perkins Institute held immense sway over Keller.  The fact that she had lived most of her formative life alone from others, cut off because of a lack of communication cannot be overstated.  In being at the Perkins Institute and seeing younger children learn to read, write, and communicate, a form of instant solidarity had been formed:

I joined the little blind children in their work and play, and talked continually. I was delighted to find that nearly all of my new friends could spell with their fingers. Oh, what happiness! To talk freely with other children! To feel at home in the great world!

For Keller, the ability to not feel alone or cut off from others is profound.  It is an experience that emboldened her and enabled her to feel as a part of a community.  From the point where she had been so isolated from others, unable to be understood and unable to be validated, to a point where she was able to forge bonds with others and experience the joy of learning with them created a seismic impact for Keller.  From the point where she was alone to a point where she was able to "talk freely with other children" was of massive importance for Keller, enabling her to move from isolation to community.  This pivot would define all of her writings later on as an advocate for the rights of the dispossessed and a voice of dissent in ensuring that all voices are heard.

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