It was in the year 1887 when Helen Keller met her teacher cum companion Anne Sullivan. What she did not know back then was this meeting with her instructor was just a beginning of a 49 year old companionship. It was Anne Sullivan who taught her how to communicate with the world. She was the first person to teach Helen Keller the names of the various objects that existed in her world. Helen Keller's journey was not a bed of roses, but with Anne Sullivan's dedication to guide Helen and the hard work she put into it, Keller who was also a determined student, made the journey of teaching worthwhile for Sullivan. Helen Keller was not just any deaf and blind person who learned brail, but was also a person, who in spite of being deaf and blind made a huge contribution to the world of literature. In modern times, she has been recognized as one of the most celebratory American authors, lecturer and social activist. All these feats would have been impossible to achieve without continuous motivation and encouragement from Helen's guide, philosopher and friend; Anne Sullivan. The 49 year old companionship culminated in a matchless, unbreakable bond with Anne Sullivan beside Helen Keller till death did them apart.
The Story Of Anne Sullivan And Helen Keller
Johanna Anne Mansfield Sullivan Macy was born on April 14, 1866 in Feeding Hills, Massachusetts. Anne Sullivan, known as the instructor to Helen Keller faced complex issues and various difficulties as a child. After the death of her mother in 1874, Anne was sent to 'Almshouse' along with her sibling, where she lived for the next four years. In 1880, due to an untreated eye disease known as Trachoma, Anne was diagnosed with a permanent sightless condition. She was sent to Perkins School for the Blind for her education where her teacher, Michael Anagnos was the director of the institute. Towards the later years of her life, Sullivan's career flourished as Helen's instructor when she was just 20 years old. Back then she did not know that it was the beginning of a 49 year old relationship with Helen as her governess and companion. It all started in March 1887, when Anne arrived at Keller's house located in a small town situated in Alabama. Anne Sullivan began to teach Keller sign language. 'D-o-l-l' was the first word that Anne attempted to teach Helen. Helen was able to imitate and mirror the hand movements in the exact same manner that Keller taught her. This came about as a huge relief to Anne Keller. Helen was learning fast.
The journey of teaching Keller was a smooth one. Although, Sullivan had trouble teaching Keller about every element present in the world, Keller struggled to keep pace but was determined to impress and catch up with what her mentor was trying to teach her. History states that Sullivan, while teaching the word 'mug' became so frustrated with Keller, that she broke the doll to pieces; the same one which she had bought for Keller as a present on her first meeting. After several misunderstandings and frustrated meetings, Sullivan poured cold water on Keller's palm on one such frustrated day. It was when Helen felt the cold water running on her palm that made her realize that the motions her teacher was making on the palm of her hand symbolized the water. This incident was a big breakthrough in Keller's life. Keller realized her mistakes and begged Sullivan to teach her more on the ways of the world. Thus, Anne Sullivan became transitioned to become a lifelong friend than just a governess.
Helen Adams Keller was born on June 27, 1880. Apart from being the first deaf and blind person to earn a bachelor's degree in Arts, Helen Keller was a famous American author, lecturer and political activist. It was Helen's mother who put forward the thought of educating her blind and deaf daughter. She visited J. Julian Chisholm, an eNT and eye specialist for advice and he suggested Helen's parents to contact the Perkins School for Blind children. When Helen's parents came in contact with the institute, Anne Sullivan was appointed to educate Helen Keller, as they were both visually impaired.
The Teacher-Student Duo
Anne Sullivan began her relation with Helen Keller as an instructor but soon became Helen's companion; a bond that lasted for 49 years. Anne soon started teaching Helen by writing words on her palm. She put in a lot of efforts in making Helen understand that every object in the universe had a name to identify it with. Helen realized what her teacher was teaching was in fact true and soon became inquisitive to learn the names of the elements that existed in the world. Helen's formal education started on May 1888 in Perkins institute for the blind. Both Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller moved to New York, where Helen joined the 'Wright-Humason' school for deaf after a brief period at the Perkin's institute. After successfully completing her education in New York, Keller joined Radcliffe College and became the first deaf and blind person to gain a bachelor's degree. Helen was 24 years old when she graduated from Radcliffe College. Being able to communicate with others, Helen learned to speak and spent most of her time lecturing other students and gave speeches. Thus, her journey as lecturer, author and social activist began. It was Anne Sullivan who taught her the basics of communication and it was Sullivan who stood beside Keller through tender periods in Keller's life, supporting and encouraging her.
Both Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller became an example and were among the first of many successful teacher-student duo. Anne worked hard and stayed true to her loyalties with Helen Keller. Apart from looking after each other, the duo was instrumental in sparking social activities to uplift the society. Being physically impaired did not stop this teacher-student duo from making a mark in the world .The journey for both started off as a hard one, and culminated into an unbroken companionship that lasted till death.