Deaf Awareness Week

26 Sep

These past few weeks I keep asking myself “Why, why, why didn’t I take American Sign Language sooner?!” If I can recommend anything at UVM, it is the sign language program. It is a common interest among many students in my Communication Sciences major, but people take ASL for a billion different reasons. Most of us went through high school taking Spanish, French, maybe Latin or German, and while I am definitely not saying that those languages are not phenomenal, American Sign Language is a completely different experience. Isn’t that what college is all about? New experiences!! ASL fulfills foreign language requirements, which is awesome!! And since many of the academic colleges and majors at UVM require 2 semesters of a foreign language, why not try your hand at ASL? (terrible joke, I know. I just couldn’t resist.) Right now I’m in ASL 1 and my plan is to continue on to ASL 2 next semester. Sadly, after graduation, who knows what my future will bring as far as continuing to learn ASL. That’s why you have to jump right into things as soon as you can and not wait until your senior year! Anyways, only 4 weeks into the course and I’m already loving it. Unlike Spanish in high school, I can’t make flash cards to remember vocabulary or practice listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills. I can only practice 1. interpreting and 2. signing. We learn many new signs every class period and then use them in activities and games to commit them to memory, since we can’t really take notes or write them down. Also, the ASL professors are Deaf, which makes the learning experiences so much more interesting! Some days it can be challenging, especially if you have a question, but I definitely think it emerges us in the culture that much more and forces us to use the ASL we know and step out of our comfort zone for a little while.

As a requirement of the class, I attended several events during Deaf Awareness Week, which was last week. On Tuesday, I went to game night. We played Telephone, a modified version of Rock, Paper, Scissors that was actually Hunter, Tiger, Photographer, The Elephant Game and a game involving facial expressions, a crucial feature of ASL. On Saturday, I attended “The Fly Guy,” which was a One Man Show. It was phenomenal. My friend, who is a total language buff, with no experience in ASL, came with me and was absolutely amazed. The Fly Guy shared stories from his childhood about his father and their hunting and fishing adventures. He also told stories about his schooling and various other stories from his life, all bursting with humor. Most of the show was acted out with mime and gestures, so even those who don’t know ASL could understand and follow along, similar to watching a silent movie. Whenever he used ASL, a voice interpreter was used. It was an incredible experience. I really hope he performs again before I graduate!!

^^Check it out! =)


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