Archive for the ‘Casey Crouch’ Category

What I’ve Learned at Gallaudet: Conservatives and Liberals Are Almost As Similar As They Are Different

July 8, 2009

Politics: Conservatives and Liberals Are Almost As Similar As They Are Different

Some things I learned at Gallaudet are the product of living in the nation’s political capitol, Washington, DC, and from attending a liberal-minded university. Before moving to DC, I had never been involved with politics. I knew we had three branches of government, two major political parties, and I knew that, at the time, George W. Bush was President, Dick Cheney was Vice President, and Condoleezza Rice was the Secretary of State. That was the extent of all my knowledge of politics. Seriously.

Thankfully, I had a friend in DC who was a political science major who was working for the White House. In order to keep up with his stories every weekend when we would get together for sight-seeing trips or for church, I had to learn more than who the top three political leaders were in the United States. I learned about several Senators and Congresspeople, who were some of the major foreign political leaders, who was on the White House staff, how politics is REALLY run, what policies were being considered or put into place, how elections are run, what each political party stood for, what each upcoming candidates stood for, and what these people who are running our government were really like in person.

It was a great opportunity for me. While I learned all of these facts, I was also learning something about myself: what I believed and stood for and what kind of persecution and oppression I was going to experience as a result of these beliefs.

Since I was learning all of this in DC, my first encounters with others of opposing (and similar) views obviously took place at GallaudetUniversity. I have said before that I am a Conservative Independent. Because of what I believe (both politically and about Jesus Christ), teachers, friends, and acquaintances have called me closed-minded, fanatic, discriminatory, egotistical, brain-washed, un-educated, and stupid.

“Why?” I ask. 

I have firm beliefs about who I am and what I stand for. I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and I believe what the Bible teaches is true and life-changing. My beliefs are my own. I make my own decisions. I have all kinds of friends of different races and walks of life who I love and care about, but who know that, because of what I believe in the Bible, I cannot approve of some of their actions. We spend time together and have fun anyway! I am not un-educated. I have a high school diploma, an Associate’s Degree, and I am working towards my BA Degree. I am not stupid. I had a 3.9 GPA in high school, a 3.89 GPA (4.0 in my major courses) in junior college, and I have a 3.96 GPA at my current four-year university. So why do people accuse me of and ridicule me for something that I am not?

What people do not realize is that most everyone is just like me. They are closed-minded fanatics who “don’t accept other’s ideas or points of view” and they have their own firm beliefs. They may not believe the same things I do and they may have a different view on how to handle an issue, but just as I firmly believe what I believe, so do liberals and moderates believe what they believe. They are not going to easily change their minds about what they are passionate about and believe is true and neither am I. They say that I do not accept their point of view and that I am discriminating against others because of it. Just look at what they are saying! Neither are they accepting my point of view. Does that mean that they are discriminating against me?

I think that we have lost sight of the fact that we live in a free country–a democracy–where we can hold any point of view and not be persecuted for it by others or by our government. We are all as similar as we are different. We all have a faith and certain beliefs that we hold dear. It just may not be the same as someone else’s. You may be a Christian, an Atheist, an Agnostic, a Muslim, a Hindu, or from any other religion. You may be democratic, republican, independent, green, constitutionalist, libertarian, or of any other political party.  We can still respect each other no matter what.

Now, respecting one another and compromising are two different things. You can still keep your beliefs and faith without disrespecting someone else and compromising yourself. For example, I wrote in a History paper that Christians (and consequently, myself) believe that there is one way to heaven and that way is through Jesus Christ. My professor then told me that, by saying that, I was being egotistical. He said that there is no such thing as absolutes and I had no right to say that there is one way to heaven.

I almost wanted to ask him if he was absolutely sure about that.

Instead, I told him that for me to say that I did not believe that Jesus was the only way, I would be denying a foundational belief of mine and could not be a Follower of Jesus Christ as a result. Why would anyone tell me to deny my faith and never say that Jesus is the only way? Would he have told a Muslim that Allah and Muhammad could not be the only way?  Would he have said something similar to someone of another religion? No, I do not believe that he would have. 

I know that I would never tell a person to deny what they believe. I may try to show a person the love of Christ. I may try to convince them that their only Savior is Jesus Christ. However, it is up to that person (not me) to either continue believing what they believe or to allow the Holy Spirit to change their lives. Personally, I believe that people of other faiths are lost. I disagree with them on what is true because my standard for truth is the Bible. But, in the same way, they think that I am just as lost as I believe that they are! I may try to “convert” them out of love and fear for what I believe will happen to them if they do not trust Jesus as their only Savior, but they are going to try just as hard to “convert” me!

Am I wrong for doing the same thing as everyone else? My teacher tried to convert me into believing that there are no absolutes. Does this mean that others can try to convert each other (and me) and use arguments from their perspectives and beliefs, but I cannot? It is just something to think about.

We are all more similar than we are different. We just go around magnifying and celebrating our differences and uniqueness when we should be focusing on what makes us the most alike, and consequently, what brings us together. We all have a void inside of us that we need and try to fill. Some turn to God to fill their hearts and lives, others try to fill their lives with good works, money, power, Buddha, Muhammad, or any other number of entities and things.

As a result, people make decisions and take stances on political agendas that support their beliefs and treasures. So, while we all have differing political views and religious beliefs, we should focus on the fact that we all have political views and religious beliefs period. It does not matter that they are different. We can hold onto our beliefs and still respect each other. Conservative or Liberal, it does not matter. We are almost as similar as we are different and that is all that matters.

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What I’ve Learned at Gallaudet: Language Emergence

July 8, 2009

Some Questions on Language Emergence: How did Sign Languages Originate?

In the ASL 403: Communication in Gestures course I took under Dr. Mike Kemp, I had the opportunity to learn about language emergence. I had never studied the topic before and, through our Discussion Board conversations with Dr. Kemp and the other students, I was able to discover a whole new controversial realm of language that I had no idea existed.

I suppose that language is one of the many everyday things that we take for granted. I mean, how many times have you been talking then suddenly stopped and thought, “Wow, I am using language. I have the God-given ability to communicate my thoughts and ideas to others. How am I able to do that?” 

Let’s just go ahead and say “never.”

I had never thought about what communication is or how we do it. However, it is fascinating when you start to think about it.

Being a Christian, I believe in subjecting science to the Bible instead of subjecting the Bible to science because, no matter how smart we think we are or how much much research we do, we always can make mistakes and we later find out that we were wrong and the Bible was right all along. I am telling you this ahead of time so that you understand how I am going to lead this discussion. If you do not like reading things from a Biblical worldview, then please do not feel like you have to subject yourself to reading this. However, if you are open to asking questions and thinking of language in a whole new way by analyzing some of these ideas and thoughts on your own, then read on!

Dr. Kemp said that, in our Gestures class, “we [were] observing a ‘new language’ emerging from our participation.” That got me to thinking. Can people create their own language? I had always believed that language is God-created. I still believe that. But now I had to think about how language develops, emerges, changes, is learned, and how it is passed on from generation to generation. I know that God gives us the innateability to acquire language and use language. It is how we communicate. Without it, we could not have relationships witheach other, or more importantly, with God.

What made this subject more difficult to tackle, however, was that I already knew how spoken language(s) originated, but I knew nothing about how sign languages are created. So, to figure out how sign language(s) emerge, I had to go back to the beginning–the very beginning.

I knew that, in the beginning of time, there was one common (spoken) language. I was not sure how sign language fit into that, but I knew that there had to be Deaf people around during that time, so I assumed that there was one sign language as well. The Bible says in Genesis 11:1, “Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.”

This verse is supported by biological, Biblical, and linguistic evidence. Biologically speaking, humans emerged from one location: somewhere around the Ethiopia/northern Africa region. Scientists say that the oldest human fossils were found in Ethiopia. They say that these fossils support DNA and molecular evidence. In my Biology class’ textbook, I read that studies of mitochondrial DNA (maternally inherited) show that “all living humans inherited their mitochondrial DNA from a common ancestral woman” (pg. 405, Biology: Concepts and Connections, 5th Ed., Campbell, Reece, Taylor, and Simon, 2008). Tracing the mutations of the Y Chromosome (paternally inherited) and comparing them from “males of various geographic regions, researchers were able to infer divergence from a common African ancestor” (pg. 405, Biology: Concepts and Connections, 5th Ed., 2008).

I would agree withscientists on the point that mitochondrial DNA came from one woman and that the Y Chromosome points to one common ancestor. I believe those ancestors to be Adam and Eve. The only thing that I disagree with is that I think they may be a few miles off of the exact starting place.  The Bible pinpoints it as being “a garden in the east, in Eden” (Gen. 2:8) where “A river…flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. The…Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah….The Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. The…Tigris; it runs along the east side of Asshur. And the…Euphrates” (Gen. 2:10-14). Of course, no one died in the Garden of Eden because Adam and Eve were kicked out after they ate the fruit, so there would not be any “oldest human fossils” there, which still does not disprove what the Bible says.

Linguistically speaking, I learned in Linguistics 263 taught by Dr. Susan Mather, that languages begin with complex rules and syntax and, as time passes, that languages become more simple (or efficient may be a better word). This makes sense if you believe that God created language (since He is a Higher Being, He can create complex languages out of nothing). Then, over time, we would simplify the language (since that’s a trademark of a healthy language–one that is constantly changing and becoming more efficient over time). From an evolutionary perspective however, this is contrary and detrimental to the idea of the cave-man-to-intelligent-man theory since Evolutionists believe that we started out with grunts and groans and slowly created a more complex language.

All of these studies show that language originated from one place, one time, and one couple–one man and one woman. It would make sense to assume that two people would only need one language to communicate with one another. They would have passed this one language to their children and so on. There would have been no need for other languages (though there could have been other dialects of the same language, but they would have been able to understand each other anyways). With that in mind, I came to the part where this one language multiplied into many languages.

I also know that at the Tower of Babel, “the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth (Genesis 11:9).” At this point, God created several/many different languages and their complexity. The people could not have been working on the Tower of Babel and then suddenly, at the same time, created their own languages. God did it. Then, not only did He create different languages and cause the people to be unable to communicate with each other, but He also “scattered them over the face of the whole earth.” If there were not dialects before this point, there would be now. As people moved to distant regions, they would encounter different climates and environments, which would call for more specialized vocabulary, making their languages more unique, differentiated, and unintelligible to others of other dialects and languages.

Now, I am getting to the part that has left me perplexed. Since the Bible does not mention sign language, I am left to wonder whether God confused the languages of the Deaf people, too. I am sure that He did. However, even if God did create different signed languages to prevent the Deaf people from working together to build the Tower, just as He had done with the hearing people and their spoken language, then I am faced with another issue.

After the Tower of Babel, people moved to other parts of the world instead of congregating in one common location. This would have possibly isolated some Deaf people, who, if they had no Deaf children to pass on their language, would have been the first and last to use such a God-given, complex language. Then, suppose a few generations later, another Deaf child is born in that community and there are no other Deaf people to teach him/her sign language. How will that child communicate? Could they ever develop their own communication system or language to use to interact with those around them?

That was and is my dilemma. In my Communication in Gestures course, I was beginning to see that, out of need and through the community of our classmates and professor, we were slowly developing a communication system that may very well have evolved into a language all its own just as this lone Deafchild may have been able develop a communication system and possibly a language with his/her family and neighbors. One of the major hindrancesI have with believing that a complex sign language (or spoken language for that matter) can be created by humans alone is that, for example, in my class, everyone already knew at least two languages (ASL and English) and some even knew a third and fourth language (Spanish, Hebrew, Chinese Sign Language, and Mandarin Chinese were some of them).

Could a person with no linguistic background create a language complete with complex grammar and syntax? We had a starting place. We adopted a grammar similar to ASL and English. We used many of the same classifiers as is in ASL. If we did not already have that lexicon (limited and defined constraints for handshapesand movements, etc. that were acceptable within our community) to begin with, could we have still gestured with each other to the point of creating a language?

Studies show that babies are born with the capacity to learn language. Obviously, humans are also born with a need to communicate. However, that does not mean that humans can create language out of that need. This just shows that we can learn and use whatever language we are exposed to.

Before this class, I thought a man-made language was impossible. I do still believe that God created all spoken languages. But the Bible never mentions sign language, so I am left to contemplate whether it is truly possible for us to develop language within our small community apart from God’s work. Even if it is possible, it would not be completely apart from God’s handiwork because God created our minds to be able to learn language and use it.

 *In honor of the late Dr. Mike Kemp*

What I’ve Learned at Gallaudet: Mime and Gesture Vs. Sign

July 8, 2009

Mime and Gesture Verses Sign

I learned about the differences between mime, gesture, and sign in my ASL 403: Communication in Gestures course taught by Dr. Mike Kemp. It was quite possibly the best class I have had at Gallaudet. Dr. Kemp had a unique way of teaching. One test. One paper. Complete immersion.

I learned things in his class that I do not think that I would have ever learned in any other course. If I had been in any other class, I would have read about the subject, written about the subject, and discussed the subject, but I would never have learned the subject as well as I did without those things.

Dr. Kemp had three rules in his classroom, no mouthing, no signing, and no fingerspelling. Everything had to be gestured or, as a last resort, written on the marker board with as few words as possible. We started out with easy gestures: how to introduce ourselves, describe people and things, and give simple directions. Then, we moved on to harder, more complex gestures where we discussed abstract ideas, politics, religion, and many other topics without ever using a single sign.

It is not as easy as it seems, but it is well worth learning. I encourage anyone learning ASL to take a Visual Gestural Communication course. It helps you to feel more comfortable moving your face and body and helps you to learn how to acquire new vocabulary through contextualization. It also helps you to learn how to adapt to those you meet who do not use the same signs or sign language that you do.

One day, he asked us about mime and gesture. How were they different? None of us really knew, so he proceeded to show us. He never lectured on the subject or gave us a definition. He simply gave us an example. This example has stuck with me and helped me better understand what mime, gesture, and sign really are and how and when they should be used.

He made up a story about a flat tire and a man changing it on the side of the road. For the first example, he moved around the room, stepping to the side as he got out of the car, walking around the length of the invisible car to the trunk, putting his arms around the invisible spare, and kneeling down to remove the old tire. Everything was life-sized. The size of objects and his actions were all done as though he was actually changing a flat–you could have inserted a real car there and he would have actually changed a tire.

For his second example, he stood in one place. All he did was move his hands and body just enough to give us the picture of him changing a tire. He never used any signs. He only used classifier-like handshapes to show parts of the car and his actions. Everything was on a smaller scale. No real car could have been inserted there. This type of rendition was more like storytelling while the previous example had been more along the lines of an actor acting without props.

Then, he gestured, “The first example is mime. The second example is gesture.”

It made sense. It clicked. I finally realized how they were all different.

Mime is like acting. Everything is life-sized and real-world. Anyone can understand it. You can use mime for entertainment purposes or if gesturing is not enough to get your point across. You can walk around the room or stage. You can kneel, jump, walk, sit, or do any other action because it is just like acting. You can also use some props if you want.

Gesture is like storytelling. It does not use any signs from a specific language, so most anyone can understand it. It brings less attention to yourself if you are trying to communicate with someone who does not know ASL and it comes in handy for events where people from different countries will be present together. It is more time efficient than mime is. You stand in one place and your hand and body movements are “smaller.” You use classifiers (handshapes that resemble how objects look) instead of acting. You do not use props. It is the closest communication form to sign language.

Sign Language uses some of the same rules as gesture. You typically stand in one place and almost nothing is referred to in life-size, real-world ways. It will have more abstract signs than gesture and not everyone will understand it–it will only be understood by its own community. It will have a complete and complex grammar. It can introduce new vocabulary and discuss difficult topics more easily because it is even more time efficient than gesture is. Signs can have more than one meaning whereas most gestures have only one meaning. Sign Language also changes over time as people use or don’t use certain signs.

This was probably the most fascinating thing that I learned in Dr. Kemp’s class. I can now see mime, gesture, and sign and know the difference. He taught me that and it has stuck with me. I will never forget the valuable lessons he gave us in his Gestures in Communication class.

*In honor of the late Dr. Mike Kemp*

What I’ve Learned at Gallaudet: Crab Theory

July 8, 2009

Crab Theory

This is an interesting topic. Being a hearing person though, I will not get into it with too much detail. Instead, I will let you read a blog by one of my favorite authors, Christopher Jon Heuer.

In summary, the crab theory is based on the metaphor of what happens when you put several crabs together in a bucket. The crabs crawl over each other, trying to get out of the bucket, and in the process, none of them escape because they keep pulling each other back down.

This is something that many communities struggle with, including the Deaf community. For a long time, Deafpeople have provided each other with a network of support and mutual understanding and commitment. They still do. However, back when it was more difficult for Deaf people to become successful due to discrimination, an invisible standard–a status quo–was established. Anyone who then stepped outside of the status quo immediately became a product of  “the crab theory.”

So, for example, if someone decided that they wanted to work somewhere other than in printing or for the post office, they were then labeled “HEARING-MINDED.” HEARING-MINDED is a sign that means “think like a person who is not like us.” That is how the crab theory goes.

So, with this in mind, read Heuer’s blog here to get a better idea of what the crab theory is and how we can overcome it: http://www.deafdc.com/blog/chris-heuer/2007-05-09/overcoming-crab-theory/  (just as a heads up for those of you who are more literally-minded, he is not being serious when he is giving these tips. These “maneuvers” are generalizations made about the Deaf community that are meant to be funny). Enjoy!

What I’ve Learned at Gallaudet: Audism

July 8, 2009

I know that I have talked about this term before in my writings. It is becoming a more and more popular subject. I recommend using caution though when getting into issues of discrimination. Discrimination is a two-way street, but oftentimes, you will find that fewer and fewer people are believing in the existence of reverse discrimination.

That warning out of the way, here is a simple definition of audism:

Audism is the act of someone discriminating based on a person’s hearing status.

Think about it. This could go either way. A hearing person can discriminate against a Deaf person because they are deaf and a Deaf person can discriminate against a hearing person because they can hear.

All discrimination is bad. Discriminating because of a person’s hearing status is no different. However, you will find that most people only look at this definition one way. I encourage you not to do that. I encourage you to view each other as equals. We are all made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). We are all made alike. Learn from each other: learn about other languages, cultures, and communities. Deaf people and hearing people alike have a lot to offer one another. Do not let audism get in the way of that.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.'” Genesis 1:27-28, NIV

What I’ve Learned at Gallaudet: “deaf” Verses “Deaf”

July 8, 2009

For my second series of blogs, I want to share some of the things I have learned while attending Gallaudet University.

So, what have I learned at Gallaudet?

Well, I have learned many things, so to narrow such a broad topic, I want to focus on the things that I have learned that I would have never learned anywhere else–things that have enlightened my views about the world, culture, and identity, especially concerning the Deaf community. So, here goes!

“d”eaf Verses “D”eaf

Okay, so this one I learned both at Gallaudet and from reading books about Deaf Culture, but it is nevertheless an important concept to grasp. I do not want to get into the whole who-is-“D”eaf-and-who-is-“d”eaf controversy, but I do want to give you a general idea of what these two terms mean.

To begin with, anyone can be “d”eaf: your grandmother, a neighbor, a person who signs, a person who does not sign, Helen Keller, Thomas Edison, and Bill Clinton. These people are characterized as being deaf because they have a hearing loss. They may or may not have a hearing aid or cochlear implant and they may or may not sign, fingerspell, or lipread. They do not have their own culture, language, or community based on their hearing loss. In most cases, these people see themselves as handicapped and wish that they were hearing (able to hear) and so they try to “fix” themselves with technology.

Being “D”eaf is different. “Deaf” means that someone is a specific kind of person with a hearing loss. They use sign language (ASL in the United States) as their primary means of communication, they are actively involved with the Deaf community, they pass on their native language to others, they participate in Deaf culture, and they are proud of their deafness. They do not see  themselves as handicapped or disabled, and in most cases, they do not wish to be hearing (though some might just so that they can avoid all the discrimmination they get sometimes).

They have no desire to be “fixed” though, I believe, that there is more of a movement of acceptance for those who do want a hearing aid or CI if it benefits them somewhat. Notice that I said “benefit.” Hearing aids and cochlear implants continue to be a sensitive issue because they are seen as both beneficial (not corrective) and also as an attempt to “fix” something that is not broken.

So, without getting into too much controversy, that is the difference between “deaf” and “Deaf.” And, that is what I’ve learned at Gallaudet.

Being a HUG at Gallaudet: Activities and Places to Eat

May 3, 2009

Question #8: Where do I eat? What is there to do during free time?

On-Campus Eating

At Gallaudet, there are several places you can eat on-campus. The Market Place is located in the SAC (Student Academic Center). They serve breakfast and lunch from 7am-3pm Monday through Friday. There, you can order and pay for foods separately or use/buy block meals. The Plaza Dining Hall serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner from 7am-8pm Monday through Thursday, 7am-7pm Friday, 9am-7pm Saturday, and 9am-8pm Sunday. Rathskellar is a dinner/late-night-snack place that is great place for socializing and studying. It is located in the SAC and is open Monday through Thursday from 3pm-12am, Friday from 3pm-2am, and Saturday from 6pm-2am. There is also the Kellogg Conference Center Bistro that is open 7am-3pm Monday through Friday.

Off-Campus Eating

If you are visiting Gallaudet or just want something other than cafeteria food, you have several options. There is a Wendy’s, Burger King, and a McDonald’s down Florida Ave.–just turn right when you exit Gallaudet and keep going for about 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile. You can also go to Union Station via the Gallaudet shuttle to visit Union Station’s food court, Au Bon Pain, Uno’s Pizzeria, or America to name a few. If you take the shuttle to Union Station, you can also check out the best pizza place in town–Armand’s Pizzeria–just by walking out the front, turning left down the first street and walking down a few blocks. It is on the left.

Chinatown, Georgetown, and Silver Spring are great places to find restaurants. Chinatown and Silver Spring are easily accessible by Metro. To get to Georgetown, you can take the Metro to Foggy Bottom/GWU and walk to Georgetown or you can take the Circulator bus from Union Station directly to Georgetown. You can also go to the food court in one of the malls in Pentagon City, Wheaton, or Ballston.

On-Campus Activities

Besides dorm activities, there are a number of other extracurricular activities offered. There are usually 2-3 theatrical performances every semester put on by Gallaudet’s theatre program or by visiting performers such as Rathskellar and Bernard Bragg. Football games are a big event in the fall and other sports such as basketball, baseball, and soccer draw a crowd, too. Gallaudet has a nice gym and pool for those who like to get a little exercise. They are also renovating the outdoor track for running.

Every even year there is Rockfest (RF) at Gallaudet and every odd year there is Brickfest (BF) at RIT. This is a major event where students from both schools come together to see old friends, compete at different sports and games, and just have fun. There is also homecoming and a whole weekend of related activities. Every weekend during the semester, Gallaudet’s SBG (Student Body Government) puts on a double feature film in the on-campus movie theatre.

There are also several groups you can get involved with, ranging from cultural, legislative, cinematographic, religious, or other interest groups. These include clubs or organizations such as the: Asian-Pacific Association (APA), Student Body Government (SBG), Bison TV, Buff and Blue (student newsletter), Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC), and PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).

Off-Campus Activities

Seeing the monuments on the National Mall is a must. It is about 5 miles of walking, but it is well worth it. Along the way, you can stop at any number of museums including the Natural History Museum, American History Museum, Holocaust Museum, Air and Space Museum, National Gallery of Art, Freer Gallery, Sackler Gallery, and the Botanic Gardens.

For entertainment, you can go to the Kennedy Center for music performances and plays or, if you like night life, you can check out U Street and Dupont Circle (the Gay District but also home to several bars and clubs). Other sightseeing that might be worthwhile would be to visit the Nation Arboretum, White House, Capitol, Library of Congress, Newseum, and the Spy Museum. If you can go out of town, the Great Falls, Annapolis, Baltimore, and Mount Vernon are all great spots to visit.

For shopping, check out the malls in Ballston, Wheaton, L’Enfant Plaza, or Pentagon City. You can also go to Target or Best Buy in Columbia Heights. If you like spending a little extra, head over to Georgetown for some great shops like Urban Outfitters and American Eagle. If you need some groceries, there is a Harris Teeter off Potomac Ave. and a Giant in Columbia Heights.

Check out this blog for more information on other things to do in DC: https://gallaudetblog.wordpress.com/2008/04/13/what-to-do/ and https://gallaudetblog.wordpress.com/2008/06/01/my-last-day/ for information about sightseeing, and https://gallaudetblog.wordpress.com/2008/04/27/a-day-with-the-cherry-blossoms/ for information on the Cherry Blossom Festival in the Spring.

Being a HUG at Gallaudet: Dorm Life and Choosing a Dorm

May 3, 2009

Question #7: What is dorm life like? Which is the best dorm for me?

To answer the first question, Gallaudet tries to promote interaction and community between dorm dwellers. This means that floor meetings may be held once or twice during the semester to establish rules, goals, and a sense of community. Every dorm hosts a couple of activities throughout the semester that anyone is allowed to attend. These could range from discussion topics and informational meetings on drugs, effects of alcohol, sex, and domestic abuse prevention to fun activities like game nights and movie nights.

Also, dorm life experiences can greatly depend on which dorm you live in. For example, having three roommates instead of one or sharing a bathroom with the entire floor verses only with your room buddies, can effect your experience in the dorms. Also, what you get out of dorm life depends on how much effort you want to put into it. All of the activities I listed above are optional. If you choose to do one, two, or even three of those, you are going to get to know other dorm dwellers better. There are also common rooms in every dorm that allow for more socializing.

Now, knowing what dorm is best for you will probably depend on how much you want to socialize, what type of personality you have, and what grade and GPA you have. Sadly, if you are a freshman, you do not have a choice as to where you will live, you must live in the Ballard complex (although some overflow is put in Benson Hall). Eventually though, all freshmen will be moved to Benson. The pro to living in Ballard is that there is a common bond shared between students in Ballard who will one day walk across a stage and receive their President-signed diploma. There are a couple of cons. For one, if you are in Ballard, there is only a staircase to get to the upper floors. Second, if you are not the party type, you probably won’t like Ballard much. I’ve also heard the bathrooms aren’t exactly “modest.”

If you are the party type or you just enjoy socializing and you don’t mind noise or loud music, then Benson Hall is the place for you. The upper floors are primarily labeled the “party floors,” but the closer you live to earth, the less noise and partying you’ll experience. However, no matter which floor you live on, you’ll never be short of socializing. Another positive to living in Benson is that it was just stocked with new furniture last year. Other than the noise, there is only one other complaint I have heard from students: there is no secure place to store their stuff over Christmas break. Students are allowed to leave whatever they want in their dorm room over the holidays and, for students in all of the other dorms, this is easy because they can lock their things in their closet with a padlock. Students in Benson do not have lockable closets; they have wardrobes instead.

Clerc Hall is also a great socializing-friendly dorm but with less partying. It is reserved for older students, mainly juniors, seniors, and graduates. A community environment is encouraged simply by the set-up of the rooms. Rooms can accommodate up to four students, so this is great if you like having multiple roommates. It has private bathrooms instead of community bathrooms like Ballard, Benson, and Peet. Also, Clerc is supposed to get new furniture, I believe, in the fall.

Peet Hall, like I said, has community bathrooms. It has only double rooms which works well for those who don’t like having multiple roommates. Eventually, from what I’ve heard, Peet will be torn down to make room for more landscaping and a re-positioned, re-designed library. Peet is mostly used by older undergraduate students and seems to be one of the quietest dorms on campus.

Another quiet dorm is Carlin Hall. Carlin is mostly used by graduate students, older students, students with high GPAs, students in the Honors Program, and International students. It has rooms that accommodate up to four roommates and it has private bathrooms. It has large, open community spaces for socializing in each wing that are shared by two floors. The upper floor has a balcony that opens into this area.

If you want to see pictures or know more about the dorms visit: http://sa.gallaudet.edu/Student_Affairs/Residence_Life/Residence_Halls.html .

You can also check out http://sa.gallaudet.edu/Student_Affairs/Residence_Life.html for more information.

Being a HUG at Gallaudet: Is It Quiet All the Time?

May 3, 2009

Question #6: Is it quiet all the time?

Yes and no.

I will start with the “no” answer first. No, it is not quiet all the time. This makes a little more sense if I bring in some Deaf culture. To get a friend’s attention from across the table or across the room, a student may yell, bang their hand on the table, or stomp of the floor. All of these things are done to produce vibrations either through sound waves or through objects, but for hearing people, you get the vibrations AND the sounds. This takes some getting used to, especially when you are in a crowded cafeteria where EVERYONE is doing it and you have never experienced that much “noise” before.

Also, there is the issue of music. In order to feel the vibrations and maybe hear a note or two, Deaf people will crank up the music–sometimes, during the day and sometimes at 4:00 in the morning–but oftentimes without thinking that the noise might bother their Hard-of-Hearing and hearing neighbors. I have found that earplugs serve me well during these times. I have also managed to gather the gumption to walk down to the perpetrator’s room on occasion and politely ask them to turn it down. They are usually very sweet about it.

On the other hand, it is quiet by hearing standards. I once read a great short story that explained what sound and silence mean to Deaf people. It is the best definition I have ever read. In essence, it said that sound equals movement and lack of movement equals silence. So, by using this definition, campus is just as “noisy” as any hearing one, but if you are talking about sound and silence as we know it, then it can get a little quiet sometimes. These “hearing periods of silence” can be anything from watching a captioned movie in Gallaudet’s theatre without sound to shutting off your eyes and just listening with your ears when you are walking through a busy hallway or through the cafeteria. Personally, I prefer to leave my eyes on at all times so that it doesn’t get too quiet. 🙂

Being a HUG at Gallaudet: Applying, Interviews, and Acceptance

May 3, 2009

Question #5: I do not have any Deaf family members. Will Gallaudet still accept me? What are they looking for in my interview and essays?

Yes! Gallaudet does not choose their applicants by whether or not they have Deaf family members. I do not have any Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing family–not even distant relatives. What Gallaudet wants to see in its applicants is a love for Deaf culture and ASL, a respect for those who are Deaf, an eagerness to learn, and a history that shows you are serious about getting involved with the Deaf community.

Knowing what the word “audism” means might help, too. It was a question I was asked during my entrance interview: “What does “audism” mean? ” Well, I did not know, and I had to admit it to the three interviewers in front of me. I found out that the word means to discriminate or oppress someone because of their hearing status. I have found, as with all types of discrimination, it is a two-way street, but most people are only driving like it’s a one-way highway.

It was kind of disappointing for me to find out what “audism” meant. In essence, my Deaf friends from junior college had taught me what was polite and impolite in Deaf culture. Some things I just did without them ever even asking me simply because I respected them as my friends, not because of discrimination or audism. I guess that I was naive enough to think that everyone was made equal in God’s eyes and that Deaf and hearing people do not discriminate against each other like other cultures and races do. I was wrong. They even have a name for it.

I do not know how much the entrance interview has changed since I came to Gallaudet, but I remember when I took it, the interviewers asked me several questions about how I, as a HUG, would respond in certain situations. These situations had basically the same concept: two hearing people are voicing; I walk by and I see a Deaf student standing there who has no idea what is being said even though the people are talking about this student; what would I do about it?

What would youdo about it? Honestly, I gave the politically correct answer because I knew that, in real life, I may or may not do anything about it, depending on the situation. If the conversation was something important, mean, or distasteful, I would either tell the people voicing to sign what they said or I’d tell the student what was said and let him/her react how they please. If it was something minuscule, I would just keep on walking.

Overall, they asked me, I believe, nine questions. Other than the things I mentioned above, there were simple questions like “what experience do you have with the Deaf community?” “Why do you want to attend Gallaudet?” and “How would Gallaudet University benefit from having you as a student here?” I do remember one other question they asked went something like, “How do you think you will feel being in a place where the majority of students are Deaf and you are only one of a few hearing students? Will you feel out of place?”

At that moment, I remember having this picture flash into my mind for just a second of me standing in the middle of a school campus with my backpack on my shoulders and me holding several books to my chest like a frightened, lonely, little school girl. It was almost like a movie clip. Students were all around me, jostling me as they made their way through the dense crowd of people. Everyone moved except me. I just stared straight ahead, looking into the camera with sad brown eyes. The camera seemed to zoom in on my face then circle around me on the first part and then slowly back away to reveal the mass of students during the second part. The muffled sound of a bustling crowd accompanied the close-up, adding to the feeling of loneliness. As the camera zoomed out, the sound grew louder and louder until the snapshot faded abruptly and I remembered that I was sitting in the interview of a lifetime.

I gathered my thoughts and did my best to answer. I do not remember my exact reply, but I remember having this comfort, peace, and resolve wash over me as the vision faded and I answered their question. I told them that I did not mind being one of only a few hearing students and that I was not worried about feeling out of place for, even though I might feel that way sometime in the future, I was here for a purpose, to learn, just like everyone else, and I did not want to be treated any different than my fellow classmates.