sounds of silence

For one of my classes this semester, I had to give a speech on a passion I have. I chose to speak about ASL, which was slightly ironic since i was talking about a silent language in a speech class!

I was able to incorporate sign language into my speech as a visual aid by signing to the lyrics of a song I like and associate with ASL, “The Sound of Silence”. I enjoyed practicing the portion of the song I used in my speech and hope to learn to do the entire song soon.

I was grateful for the opportunity to inform people in my class about the importance of ASL and how few hearing people actually take time to learn the language. It was a wonderful experience.

I had to videotape my speech for another class assignment, and so I was able to capture the signing and the speech and turn it into a video to post here so that other people can have a chance to hear my speech as well.

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making waves

At ASL club last night, I found out that due to student interest, there is the possibility that an ASL class could be offered for credit in upcoming semesters. While that is still very uncertain, I was excited to hear that it might be a possibility.

There is also an interest in introducing ASL as a minor, which would be wonderful. Unfortunately, I would not be able to have that minor since I am too far along academically to fit it into my plan. I wish that that would become an option for others though, since there is a need for people who are skilled in ASL.

If the class becomes a reality, I will do my best to be able to fit it into my schedule. I would love to take actual, structured classes especially if I decide to continue pursuing studies in ASL after I graduate. Having real classes and not just self-teaching would be very beneficial for me to enter another school’s ASL program.

I will also strongly support efforts to make ASL a potential minor for students. My school already offers other foreign language minors, so I feel that it would not be too overzealous to hope for ASL to become one of those options in the future.

For now, I will continue to support efforts to instate a for-credit sign language course, and hope to see it become a reality before I graduate.

better with two

This week, my roommate told me that she was interested in coming to the sign language club meetings this year. I was really excited, and she and I attended our first meeting together last night.

It will be really great to be able to practice with the person I live with for nine months of the year. Lily is a quick learner and enjoys signing what she knows with me, and I like teaching her. We had been practicing a bit since I began to learn sign language last year, but it had never been anything serious.

We discovered over the past week, when I lost my voice due to a fall cold, that signing is a great way to resolve that situation! I would fingerspell or sign something that I wanted to tell Lily, and she would either guess at the meaning of the sign or I would fingerspell it for her, since she is already familiar with the ASL alphabet.

Later in the week, Lily told me she would be interested in learning ASL with the club and from me, and I was thrilled. Lily is my best friend and practically a sister to me, and I’m thrilled to share one of my passions with her, just like I’ve shared it with the rest of my family.

back to school

I’ve started the first week of my junior year of college, and I’m excited for the first meeting of the sign language club in a couple weeks. In the meantime I ‘m practicing on my own and with my family when I video-call them.

It’s hard for me to believe that a year ago, I had no idea that I would ever learn sign language. I am still amazed that ASL has become so quickly such a large part of my life, and I am grateful to everyone who has had a part in my ASL journey so far.

Looking back at the progress from last year makes me vary excited for this year’s potential. Now I have on-campus connections, friends to practice with, and even interpreting experience sometimes at the local church. My signing has come a long way since randomly tossing a book of elementary-level sign language into my college packing last year, and thinking I would never actually take it up.

Sign language has given me the chance to meet people I would otherwise never have been able to communicate with, challenge my own fears and limitations , and allow me to gain a deeper understanding of the things I love and am passionate about. I have no idea what this coming year has in store, but I know that it will definitely be amazing.

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!

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.

 

small world

At last night’s meeting of the on-campus ASL club, I was able to see firsthand how much Deaf people value connections to others.

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“Connect”

After the class I was talking to the two students who teach the group. I was wearing a t-shirt with the logo of a camp I help open,”Camp Lake Louise”, and the oldest of the students asked me if I knew the camp, and if I knew a family who worked there.

When I said I did, he explained that he knows that family very well. He went to school and ran track with a young man that I have worked with while opening the camp several times, and he knows the whole family very well.

We were all thrilled to find out this connection, and it opened up a whole new avenue of conversation. I was surprised to find such close connections to a favorite place in a college so far from the camp, and finding people who know some of my family’s closest friends is amazing and wonderful.

While learning ASL I had read that finding connections is very important to the Deaf since their community is so much smaller than the general population. Last night, I was able to experience firsthand the thrill that comes when such a connection is made. This search for connection is one of the most wonderful parts of Deaf culture to be, and being part of it was a truly amazing thing.