Filed under: family, school, travel | Tags: children, deaf education, family, Gallaudet University, school, travel
With our daughter studying at Gallaudet University this year, we decided to take a trip to visit her. Emily has tried to explain what happens at her college, but until you experience it, you do not realize how different it is. It is like going to a different land.
In Washington D.C. it is not unusual to see many people from many lands. The embassies are considered to be part of the country that owns them. The folks at Gallaudet are mostly Americans who grew up in typical American homes, and except for one difference they could all be the kid next door, they are deaf. For many years people who were deaf were thought to be unteachable, after-all they lacked an aspect that any other learning child had, hearing, and because of that they were pushed to the edges of society. Here at Gallaudet the deaf are in control. When you enter Gallaudet you enter the land of the deaf.
From the bus driver who picked us up at Union Station to every food service, security, and sanitation employee there is silence, but every gesture and facial expression speaks volumes. All are here to help the deaf learn. Not all employees and students at Gallaudet are deaf, but every person on campus is dedicated to learning in a deaf world. The rules and language of Gallaudet are not the rules and language of the hearing world around them. As parents of a student there we were given a bit of slack, but it is expected that everyone at Gallaudet speaks American Sign Language.
Our Emily is not deaf, but since her early years in school she was fascinated with American Sign Language. In college she studied to teach in a school for the deaf. She has been both challenged and fulfilled in her early years of teaching as she helped young children, many of whom had as yet received no language training, express themselves. Now she is seeking her Masters degree so that she can better understand and better help the deaf to be full partners in the American life she leads.
As parents we are curious to learn about her life, and this was another good chance to experience the life she has chosen. We were blessed to have visited her in this new step in her life.
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