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.

wrapping up the year

My first semester of learning ASL is coming to a close, and I’m excited by everything that has happened since I started. I had no idea when I first got interested in sign language that my passion would take me as far as it has. I’m very glad, though, that it has.

Since beginning this adventure, I’ve inspired my family to take up ASL as well, especially my younger brother, who has been enjoying learning it very much. I had no idea that my interest would get my family interested too. It’s been fun practicing with my family and I look forward to spending more time doing that over the few weeks I’ll be home after school.

I also met some amazing new Deaf friends at my college, who I probably never would have become so close with if I hadn’t found out about and joined the sign language learning club they started. It’s been amazing to spend time with other people as interested in learning ASL as me, and to hear about sign language and Deaf Culture from people who are a part of it.

Last but not least, I’ve interpreted my first events, two services at my local church. It was unexpected and unplanned, but I enjoyed the new experience and it has helped me build my confidence, as well as convincing me that interpreting is a passion I could see myself pursuing further.

When I started learning ASL at the beginning of the semester, I had no idea how far it would take me or the amazing experiences it would open me up to. I’m excited to see what’s next, if this year has already been so amazing!

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.

unexpected opportunity

I had the amazing and slightly terrifying privilege of being the interpreter for the church service I attended today. I go to the church across the road from my college campus and watch the interpreters in the service every chance I get.

This morning I arrived confident and planning to have a conversation with the deaf man who sits next to me in the front row. All went well until the service started and the two chairs up front were empty.

Although last week there had been only one interpreter, this week neither one came. So I turned to the man next to me and signed, “do you want me to try signing,” and he agreed. So I went up and sat in the interpreters’ place and did the best I could for the rest of the service.

I was certainly far from being a qualified interpreter. I didn’t know a lot of the words to sign the service, and I was very slow trying to keep up with the pastor. Still, it was something. I apologized several times for being so slow and not very good, but the deaf man just thanked me for getting up and doing my best.

It was a very humbling but also uplifting experience. I know now how much work I will need to become a real interpreter, and this has made me aware of how hard the job will really be. But at the same time, I feel blessed to have been able to do something, no matter how small or stumbling, to show that I care and want everyone to be included in the service. I was somehow able to find the confidence to volunteer and get up front and do the best I could manage.

While this is not at all how I imagined my first interpretation, it was an amazing Sunday morning to feel God at work in what I do. If I had any doubt about the reason I have been learning ASL, that was put to rest this morning. I know that I have already been put in the right place at the right time with the right skill once. I have no doubt it will happen again. And next time, I’ll be even more prepared.

Interpreting with only six months of lessons under my belt may not be the most excellent option, but it convinced me of one thing. There is no going back. Before this, I was learning without the need to actually use everything I knew in such an important situation. Now I have just volunteered myself for the job in a sort of incredible leap of faith. I am technically an ASL interpreter now. I just need to become a good one.

I may not have exactly been ready for what happened this morning, but I had gone to church feeling confident and prepared to have a conversation with the man next to me. Little did I know how much I would need that confidence, or how much I would realize about myself and the use of the gifts God has given me.

I felt it appropriate that one of the songs in church today that I helped interpret was “Take My Life and Let it Be”. As I stated in an earlier post, this is my theme song for my work with ASL, and I couldn’t help but feel the truth of it today. When I gave this talent, gave my hands, to God, he was able to use them today because of that. I am looking forward to what he has planned for me next. Because even if it’s something unexpected like today, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.