new year, new experiences

While I was home from college for a long Christmas break, I was able to join my father in church for special music, interpreting while he sang. It was an amazing privilege. The congregation enjoyed my interpreting, and the chance to see something that is very rare in my home church, since we do not have any interpreters during the services.

For me, the most emotional part was not the singing on Sunday, but the practice that we did before, since I was working with my dad and when he watched me sign he was getting emotional. My dad remembered seeing interpreters at the church he attended when he was growing up, and he told me how much he had enjoyed seeing them. He also said it was wonderful that people who can’t hear the music or the sermon have the ability to participate in the service when an interpreter is there.

I’m deeply grateful and humbled every time people say something like this about my work. I had no idea when I began learning ASL that I would come this far or impact this many people. I have been actively learning for nearly a full year now, and I am very pleased with how far I have come and with the opportunities that have opened up with this language.

I may not have accomplished all my goals that I stated last year in my post, but I have had opportunities I could never have imagined, like interpreting a whole service and being involved with the ASL club on my campus. I’m excited about what might be in store for this year as well!


continuing education

I haven’t posted in a while because I was very busy. I spent a weekend with my family and they were able to attend the church service where I sign. I am really enjoying practicing my signing and it is becoming second nature to me, so much so that I try to use it to communicate with people who don’t even know it!

learning on the job

I was asked to fill in for one of the regular interpreters this week, which was really amazing and humbling for me since I have much less experience than they do. I still mostly only signed the songs, but I signed all of them rather than having someone else take over for me at any point.

I also learned from the interpreter who was at the service about a very important part of the job. The past few weeks I had been relying on something I have seen other interpreters do, looking to their partner for the sign for an unfamiliar word or concept. I learned today that this is a technique known as ‘feeding’ and that it is one even highly experienced interpreters use.

The interpreter I was talking to, Pamela, said that this was one of the first techniques she learned in her interpreting classes, and that it is extremely helpful for beginning learners like me. That made me much less shy about looking to her for help when I didn’t know a word, and I learned several new signs today.

It’s nice to be reminded that interpreting isn’t a solo effort and I don’t have to go it alone, especially while i am still do inexperienced. Working with professionals is definitely helping me hone my skills and the regular practice encourages me to keep learning at a steady pace. So far, it’s been a great summer, and I am very excited to see where I will be at the end of it!

signing summer

While I have an official summer job working at the college I attend, I have also apparently gained an unofficial one; interpreting the worship songs at the church where I interpreted sermons a few months ago.

When I went to the service this morning, the regular interpreters were back, and one of them asked me if I would like to interpret the songs. The past few times they had asked, I had said no, I wasn’t ready for that yet, but this morning I said I certainly would! After interpreting an entire service, doing the songs suddenly doesn’t seem as scary!

While the elderly man who I used to sign with has moved away, there was a new deaf person this morning, a woman named Janet. She is a cheerful, friendly person and even though I had never met her before I greatly enjoyed my first sign conversation with her. She signed along with my interpretation of the songs and seemed to enjoy the service very much. I hope she continues to attend the church because I am looking forward to getting to know her better!

summer plans

I haven’t written lately because I’ve been pretty busy. I’ve spent the past couple weeks with my family, but I will be going back to my campus soon for a summer job there.

I intend to keep practicing and learning ASL over the summer. I’ve been practicing with my family, since my brother is still working on classes. It’s been fun learning with them and learning variations on the signs I know. I can teach them ones I’ve learned too.

I hadn’t realized just how much sign language has become a part of my family until I was around them for this much time. My brother and I use it all the time, just for fun, and my mom and I were communicating with it when we had a loud vacuum running.

I’m hoping to finish the one set of classes I have over the summer, studying after my job is over, in the evening. I’m excited to see how much more I can learn before school starts again.

down to earth

I interpreted my church’s service again today since the interpreters were not there again. I’m becoming more confident in my work and was able to do a much better job this week than last week. Part of this was that I knew more words in the sermon this week than last, since this week was a guest speaker’s Earth Day themed message and I know many words for the natural world.

I enjoyed the sermon, and realized during it that being a good steward of my resources is about more than the physical things I have been gifted with. The talents I have are gifts to be stewarded as well, and that is what I am attempting to do by using my gift for sign language as a fill-in interpreter.

I am excited for what the future holds for me, the new experiences I will have that will help me grow in my skill and my confidence. I already feel that I am starting to become a part of the world I want to someday work in, and having this experience has been extremely valuable in convincing me that my passion for ASL is more than just a personal hobby.

dreaming big

I don’t know what it is about the New Year that makes me feel like I can accomplish almost anything, but it happens every year. I just hope that this year I don’t do what I usually do, give up on my dreams just because I think that they’re out of my reach.

One of those dreams is, of course, to learn ASL more proficiently. But I also want to visit New York City (although that may have to wait a couple years more), and maybe find a volunteer organization in my community that works with the deaf and hard of hearing, especially kids.

I know that I’ll need to work hard to make my big dreams happen, but I’m really hoping that this year will be my best yet, the one where I finally get the courage to accomplish my goals.