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By Aujene-Jecole

Today I decided to attend the American Sign Language Dinner Hosted by Deaf Club at CSN. The dinner was from 5-7pm at IHOP. The purpose of this event was to practice using American Sign Language with peers. Growing up I have always had a passion for unique ways of communicating and attending this event was an exciting opportunity. Upon my arrival, I was a little scared to enter the restaurant. I sat in my truck for five minutes convincing myself to just go in because I’m already here. Terrified of being judged I slowly climbed out of the truck and dragged my feet one by one to the door. As I walked in with terror on my face I thanked God that no one could tell because I had a mask on. Once I sat down I soon realized that I had nothing whatsoever to be afraid of. There were about 25 people there and everyone was so friendly. Across from my table were some of my friends from class, but I decided to challenge myself by sitting with strangers! It was a group of four people and we all communicated without talking extremely well. We were able to discuss sports, hobbies, our favorite drinks, what campus we attended, and even our Jobs. I was so surprised that I could understand everyone and that everyone could understand me. The conversations were so diverse. I was able to mix words that I learned from each lesson in order to express myself. I loved how everyone followed the rules of not speaking. It was so peaceful to enjoy a silent dinner with much conversation. Everyone once in a while a spring of laughter would emerge but other than that you could honestly hear a pen drop.

Improvising was my most useful strategy tonight. If I wasn't able to remember the sign or if my peers didn't understand it I was able to spell it out. I noticed that some people signed extremely fast and others had to really take their time. Fluency is really important because it affects the atmosphere of the conversation. Sitting at the table only using words that I have learned within this semester limited the descriptive style of my vocabulary. Instead of using expressive words, I had to articulate words by focusing on my body language. When I was happy I smiled, when I disagreed with someone I frowned oddly. I even used space to the best of my advantage. When describing how far the event was from my home I extended my arm to help visualize my point.

Tonight was an experience that I wouldn't trade for anything. I was able to actually hear someone's conversation with my eyes 10 feet away from me, how neat is that! This event allowed me to compare and contrast with my peers at CSN the different types of learning methods and even new sign language forms. Hopefully, I can gain even more new friends to practice with. Attending this event has motivated me to keep learning more sign language. In the near future, my goal is to be able to hold an in-depth conversation with my peers. It would be nice to discuss something among culture and politics.


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