Friday, July 06, 2007

Signing Camp: Interpreter of the Caribbean

I hope ya'll had a wonderful and blessed Independence Day (or regular ol' 4th of July for those who don't live in the US ;-) ). I laided low Wednesday because I caught a bad cold from a couple of campers at total immersion sign language camp, but it was still a good day.

Speaking of signing camp, here's some more about it. :-D

All the campers were divided into groups of four, and each group created a humorous skit and practiced it throughout the week to perform on the last night. The groups were created with varying levels of signing skills put together, making communication a challenge at times. However, our group didn’t have any big problems and the skit came together nicely.

As we were brainstorming, someone in my group mentioned a popular Deaf joke. So I changed it from a bank robber and a backyard to pirates and a desert island (arrrr!) and threw together a rough draft skit in about a half an hour, to see if that was an idea we wanted to run with. Heh, everyone was very impressed with it (including the teacher--who is an actor himself). The others in my team added some great elements to it and it was a big hit on Saturday night. I particularly liked the title, “Interpreter of the Caribbean.” Hehehe.

Basically the story (our version) is about two Deaf people who are shipwrecked on an island. They stumble upon a treasure chest, and just then spot a pirate ship approaching. They hurry to hide the gold, and then try to hide themselves, but the ship reaches the beach before they have time.

The two pirates become angry when they find that their gold is missing, and quickly spot the two trespassers who they deduce must have hidden the chest. In the shouting and threatening that follows (with the very effective means of a sword), the Deaf people finally convince the pirates that they won’t be able to reveal the location of the chest until they have an interpreter.

One of the pirates sail off to find an interpreter and manages to kidnap one and drags her back to the island. Upon the threat of death, given through the interpreter, the Deaf people quickly reveal the location of the buried chest.

They reveal it to the interpreter, that is. The interpreter, however, sees a prime opportunity to make a fortune, and announces that the Deaf person refused to tell where the chest was. Oh my. Needless to say, the pirates aren’t too happy and drag the Deaf person off to walk the plank, forgetting about the interpreter who rushes to fill her pockets with gold coins.

The original joke ends there, but our story has a twist of conscience. As the interpreter rejoices over her wealth, she hears the cries of the drowning Deaf person and gives in, throwing a rope to rescue her. Now the two live happily ever after, rich, friends, and

STUCK on a desert island forever.


Monday, July 02, 2007

Signing Camp: No Voice

I just got back from a total immersion sign language camp. It was great! There were about 47 adults and young adults there, mostly from Oregon and Washington, but a few other states as well. The eight teachers are all Deaf and were wonderful.

I have tons to talk about, hehe, so I’ll tell all about my week in a few different posts.

Since it was total immersion, we weren’t allowed to use our voices at all. Before I left, everyone was teasing me because I don’t tend to stay quiet for very long. ;-) But I didn’t have a problem. It was more frustrating for the beginner signers, but my skills are enough that I could generally at least get my idea across and understand what was being said. I really appreciated having five days of full immersion.

On Saturday we went to Saturday Market--an outdoors market with vendors selling all sorts of different kinds of things. We had to pretend we were deaf and interact with the vendors without using voices. I found that everyone was very kind and did their best to figure out how to communicate with me. For most of the vendors, we could use gestures to communicate, and they figured out to hold up how many fingers the cost was. Because of my food allergies, I had to do more written communications with the food vendors. The first one I tried just looked blankly at my paper asking if the meat pockets had tomatoes in them. I realized he didn’t speak or read much English, so I tried someone else and found something I could eat.

A few of the other campers had some funny stories. It’s rather funny to be able to hear what people are saying about you, when they think you can’t. One person was trying to buy something and heard the following conversation between the vendors:

“Hey, doesn’t your uncle know signs?”

“Oh, yeah, I think so.”

(since the uncle wasn’t there, this was hardly helpful information)

“Hmm… Hey! Maybe he can read.”


They write a note. The camper (he must have some writing blood in him somewhere) then actually edited the English spelling and grammar of the note, answered it, and handed it back. We laughed so hard when he told us about that!

One of the Deaf teachers voices really well, and she was having a bit of trouble communicating with a food vendor at the Saturday Market. So she looked around to make sure no campers were watching and then voiced that she didn’t want onions. Ha! Just then four campers came around the corner and caught her in the act. Too funny.

On the last morning of camp we were allowed to speak. It was so funny to hear everyone’s voices. It was like, “Wow, I didn’t know you had an accent.” Or, “Oh, your voice is deeper than I expected.”

Now that I’m home, instead of being all excited to use my voice, I’m feeling sign withdrawal and keep trying to sign to my family who doesn’t know any ASL. As much as I enjoy seeing my family again, I wasn’t quite ready to come home.