Kamila Carter


The Life of a CODA – Child of Deaf Adults

By Kamila Carter

“I have met many wonderful people from another part of the world. Knowing other languages has helped me realize how important communication is in this world.”

Have you ever heard of a multilingual eleven-year-old girl? I, Kamila Carter, was born to deaf parents who loved languages. Since a very young age, my mom communicated to me in Spanish, my dad in American Sign Language, and Grandma Judy in English. During the summers, I only speak Spanish with my grandparents in Los Mochis, Mexico.

My hot pink Barbie laptop would talk to me in French, Spanish and English. I always thought that was so interesting and I loved it. That was when I knew I wanted to learn more languages. My family was looking for a school that would teach me a new language. My parents found out about Riverview Elementary School in Lakeside, CA that offered a Chinese immersion program. We took a tour there. When I heard them speak Mandarin Chinese, I was really impressed. My parents soon enrolled me in this school. On the first day of kindergarten, I was nervous about going to a new school and learning a new language.

In third grade, I entered my first Chinese Competition offered by the Southern California Council of Chinese Schools, where I was awarded the fourth place in the elementary poetry recitation category. Through this award, I helped Riverview Elementary place ahead of our rival school. That same year I competed in my first Chinese Bridge Competition through the Confucius Institute at San Diego State University. Though I did not win, I studied a poem and learned a lot about China through a Chinese poet who was studying in England.

A tumbling class was also a new adventure for me this year. This experience later led me into competitive cheerleading, which I just love.

Here comes another fantastic year, fifth grade. I was able to participate in the Chinese Bridge Competition once again. I took the famous song, “A Thankful Heart,” and presented it in Chinese Sign Language. I worked very hard to do my best and guess what… I won first place! I was so amazed that I cried. It was the biggest surprise of my life. Later that year, I received the annual Brady Motivation Scholarship Award.

The Confucius Institute has created many challenging opportunities for me in my elementary years.

The Confucius Institute has created many challenging opportunities for me in my elementary years. On June 10th, 2017, I met Dr. Xuan Zheng, a Chinese woman who is deaf and taught deaf children in St. Paul, Minnesota. The intern in my fifth-grade Chinese class gave me Dr. Xuan Zheng’s email. My family arranged for us to meet at the Los Angeles Airport. We got to know each other over dinner before she flew back to China. I learned some Chinese Sign Language from Dr. Zheng.

This meeting was only a couple of hours long, but I learned so much from her about Chinese culture and how different it is from the United States.

One day at my church, Grandma Judy introduced me to a lady from China named Jingai Hu (Joy). When I first met her, I was really shy about having a conservation with her but the more she talked and the more I learned about her, the more comfortable I became. She told me that she was proud that there was someone there that spoke her language. Then we became friends.

Now I am in middle school at Tierra del Sol. This year, when I entered the Chinese Bridge Competition, I was the youngest in my category. At first, I was really nervous; once I got on stage and started speaking, I was no longer scared. I felt as confident as I would ever be. In the end, all my hard work paid off and I won ‘Best Speech.’

At first this was really scary, but the more I did it, the easier it became.

The Confucius Institute invited me to their Six Arts performances. One of the performances this year was at SeaWorld for the Chinese New Year Celebration. This was my first experience as an emcee in which I used English, Chinese, and American Sign Language. At first, this was really scary, but the more I did it, the easier it became.

This summer the Confucius Institute is making it possible for me to travel to China to experience Chinese language and culture. I will stay with a host family in Linyi and I will have an opportunity to visit Beijing and the Great Wall.

In my life so far, I have met many wonderful people from many parts of the world. Knowing other languages has helped me realize how important communication is in this world.

Kamila Carter


Confucius Institute at San Diego State University
Seventh Grader | Lakeside, California

Kamila Carter is a conscientious twelve-year-old student finishing the sixth grade at Tierra Del Sol Middle School in Lakeside, California.

She has been learning Mandarin Chinese for seven years since entering kindergarten at Riverview Elementary school. One of her greatest accomplishments to date has been winning first place at the Chinese Bridge Competition, sponsored by the Confucius Institute at San Diego State. The Institute also sponsored Kamila’s first trip to China to experience the language and culture. Her parents are deaf and use American Sign Language, Spanish and English when communicating with her. Kamila is fluent in all four languages and interprets for her parents in Sign Language. Kamila is active in her school Associated Student Body (ASB) which does service work in her community. She is on the honor roll with a 4.0 GPA average and has earned many awards as an outstanding student. Even though Kamila Carter doesn’t yet know what she will do professionally, she knows that whatever it is, it will impact the world in a positive way.