Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Promised Land


We took the MARC train from Baltimore to Union Station and hopped the Gallaudet shuttle. The shuttle was Jordan's first introduction to ASL. He saw everyone on the shuttle signing, and there was silence.
He looked at me and said, "Does everyone talk like this?" He made some gesture.
I said, "Yes, but the signs are words and that's communication. They're deaf just like you."
We continued our conversation in Italian as everyone else signed.
We got off the bus and a nice Doctorate in Philosophy told me where we needed to go, which was just across the street here.


Paula Tucker had sent me an email a month ago asking me if we wanted to tour Gallaudet, and I said yes. She is absolutely the nicest woman and was extremely helpful and generous with her time. She also gave me the name of a person to contact in Israel and blew Jordan away with videophone technology (I thought of Karen Putz the entire time) and the double screen mega-MAC computer.

My first impression...silence. A university campus in silence. Not many campuses are rocking in the summer, and Gallaudet was in the middle of a summer program called Jumpstart, which provides an intensive ASL course for oral, av students attending as all courses are in ASL, but the silence was thought-provoking.

Everywhere we turned there were deaf empowerment pictures, posters, history, etc. Loved that!


We arranged everything very last minute with Paula, and Julia from the visitor's center was luckily and miraculously able to organize a tour for us. We had Patrick signing, Emily interpreting for me and me interpreting for Jordan.


At the end of the tour, after telling us about Gallaudet, Clerc, the coffin door and the Presidents' house filled with ghosts, Patrick asked me if I had any questions. I said, "I have a personal question, Jordan's going into high school, he's mainstreamed and kind of terrified. Any advice?"
Patrick said, "Totally normal, I was mainstreamed, too. He'll just need to work harder."

Work harder.
Gallaudet is filled with students who have always had to work harder and there's something about the campus that breathes a collective sigh of relief.

After four years, I finally met Sharon, who was the first person to interview my dad and me after the book was released. One of those internet friendships with all of everything called life shared over the years. Beautiful person who loves, loves teaching at Gallaudet.


Before going to bed, Jordan and I had a pow wow. He asked me if he was the only deaf person who could speak. I said absolutely not. I asked him if he realized that for the first time he was sitting in a classroom with all deaf students, instead of sitting in a classroom with hearing students his whole life and being the only deaf student. I think that question surprised him, because he had not realized that, but I could tell he kind of liked the idea. He said he liked hearing and speaking but that he had felt comfortable at Gallaudet.
Then he told me he'd like to learn sign language and to keep blogging because he would like to write a book about the life of a deaf child...him.


Something tells me that despite the fact Jordan's just entering high school, the official hunt for college has already begun...


Julia said...

Wow -- sounds like a great tour. I'm waiting to hear back from an ASL instructor about whether she's available for private lessons. Watching all the vlogs on youtube just makes me that much more determined to learn ASL. Even the ones that are virulently anti-CI (and those are the ones that pop up whenever I happen to be watching someone's CI activation video, or something like that) are intriguing. I can pick out a few signs, but it all goes by so fast. I have this fantasy in which Ben and I take one of those ASL immersion courses over at RIT in a few years.

Anonymous said...

He should try going to that school with his implant off... it get very visual without sounds distracting you.

mishkazena said...

Jodi, you are here! Not far from where I live. Unfortunately I couldn't meet anyone now. :/

Cool that Jordan finds Gallaudet totally awesome. Many students there come from mainstreamed programs. As you have seen, some of them have exclusively oral upbringings.

Anon, what's wrong with Jordan wearing his cochlear implant? If he feels very comfortable using it? Many students use their hearing aids at Gally.

Anonymous said...

Nothing wrong. just a different world that's all. It's for experience.

CheryLfromMA said...

very nice & glad Jordan enjoyed Gally :) thanks to you, jodi for being so supportive caring for Deaf & ASL and thanks for sharing!

Unknown said...

That is indeed wonderful for how we continue to raise our consciousness and embrace positive experiences like this.

We plan to take our 10 year old Yoel to NTID/RIT this fall while my husband Uzi demonstrates his about 40 art works at Dryer Museum. We want our hoh son to know there are Gallaudet University and also NTID/RIT where he can continue to fulfill his life as he wishes in both languages or even more if we should relocate to Israel.

Karen Mayes said...

That's awesome... I am glad to see that you are showing Jordon that there's more to the deaf community and that he's not alone.

I see he has BROAD shoulders...


Unknown said...

Thanks!!!!!!!! We had a great time, Jordan managed to struggle through the heat, slept through lunch, but perked up during Sharon's class in front of the computer.
Would like to see the campus when classes are in session...

Danielle said...

wow so happy you went. I am glad that you saw alot there!! you better have more pictures than that. I got ur email Im sry the cafeteria was closed forgot school is not open yet. i THINK This was an eye opener for him and yeah hell probably end up going there. When I first went there I was shocked to with the Silence but its amazing how they communicate it changed my life forever. He should learn ASL. If you want ASL packets I have let me know. You can even asked his school to put him into an ASL 1 class instead of something he doesnt really want to take next year. Glad you had a great time! I will email you soon the picture from the cafeteria!

Yes that a good idea to go back when students are there!