I thought I only had one preconception of my sign language class: the more I had to practice sign language at home, the more silence there would be for R. A win-win situation. I quickly realized how many more suppressed ideas I really did have. Let me list them. I thought that:
- the teacher (A.) would not be deaf — Why was I shocked when a man standing in front of the room was rapidly signing about how he wanted to strangle his high school class from earlier that day. He was making small noises that kind of sounded like words, but only when you knew exactly what he was saying via the interpreter. Speaking of which…
- due to said deaf instructor, we would have an interpreter — Actually we did have an interpreter for this first class. But A. was quick to inform us that this was the last time he would be interpreting for us. As soon as we walk through the door next week, it will be silent. For two hours. No speaking allowed. Am I capable?
- my class is past 3rd grade level — When given an open forum, why did one person actually ask “When did deafness start?” [I think] the interpreter deliberately misinterpreted the question. So, based on what the interpreter signed, A. answered with a brief history of the only deaf college in America (his alma mater — of which he had previously mentioned in class).
- i wasn’t going to be afraid to state my name and why i wanted to take this class — For a second I imagined myself launching into all of my fears leading up to my previous blog post. I somehow managed to fall back onto the ole “i’d like to take on a new challenge”. That always works.
- sign language is all about your hands — This is going to be more of an acting class than anything else. Expression is key to signing effectively. Asking ‘why?’ versus ‘WHY?’ is distinct by your facial expression.
I’ve already sized up my class too. There’s the straight-A cocky student who sits in the front of the classroom, signing back to the teacher throughout his lecture to us. Isn’t that the same as talking? So why wouldn’t that be just as rude as responding with “I agree” or “Yes” or “Amen!” every time someone says a sentence in a lecture setting?
There’s the mid-sixties couple who are learning sign language because the man has been given a couple years before he is completely deaf. He seems reluctant and/or sad to be there. I’m glad he has our instructor, though, because A. is very gregarious and interesting minus the interpreter. A good representation of the quality of life one can have without this sense.
Then there’s the girl who chose a seat in the middle of the classroom, expecting to have at least one person to talk to. Instead, every seat to the front, back, and sides of her stayed empty. That’s me. Do I have the plague? Maybe I’ve already lost my sense of smell. Literally, people chose to sit in the front row rather than next to me in the middle. That’s bad.
At the end of class, A. tickled my foreign language fancy by sharing a mistranslation of the sign language sort. In college, he met a friend from Ireland. Because of the different dialects (and therefore, different signs), they would go all over town signing words for this and that. Below is the sign for ‘candy’ in America. Let’s just say, don’t ask for ‘candy’ in Ireland. It will either cost a lot or you’ll get slapped, depending on who you ask.
Don’t ask why I look like a demon. I got a little crazy with the red eye reducer.
this is great, carrie. you can practice on me all the time.