ASL students host Deaf community event

Members+of+St.+Catherine%27s+University+at+the+Deaf+Event+April+27.+They+are+representing+the+ASL+major+and+minor+opportunities+offered+at+St.+Catherine+University.+Those+who+take+the+programs+find+jobs+as+translators+and+social+service+workers.+
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ASL students host Deaf community event

Members of St. Catherine's University at the Deaf Event April 27. They are representing the ASL major and minor opportunities offered at St. Catherine University. Those who take the programs find jobs as translators and social service workers.

Members of St. Catherine's University at the Deaf Event April 27. They are representing the ASL major and minor opportunities offered at St. Catherine University. Those who take the programs find jobs as translators and social service workers.

Photo by Q.C. Ho

Members of St. Catherine's University at the Deaf Event April 27. They are representing the ASL major and minor opportunities offered at St. Catherine University. Those who take the programs find jobs as translators and social service workers.

Photo by Q.C. Ho

Photo by Q.C. Ho

Members of St. Catherine's University at the Deaf Event April 27. They are representing the ASL major and minor opportunities offered at St. Catherine University. Those who take the programs find jobs as translators and social service workers.

Q.C. Ho, Editorial Cartoonist

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ASL students hosted the Deaf Awareness Day event April 27, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. For the sixth year in a row, ASL students from across Minnesota had the opportunity to interact with members of the Twin Cities Deaf community.

American Sign Language, shortened to ASL, is a nonverbal language predominately used among the Deaf community of America and English-speaking Canada. SAHS offers ASL as an elective taught by Amy Caslow and Rebecca Mazzara.

Students taking ASL were required to attend the event for at least three hours, both as volunteers and participants. Student volunteers greeted event goers as they arrived and sold concessions.

“It’s a really good opportunity for them to use their signing skills,” Mazzara said. “To just feel what it’s like to be around a whole bunch of people that speak a different language than them, a language they learned. I think it’s a great opportunity for them.”

The cool thing about this is it’s going to make people aware that Deaf people are no different than any of us. They’re doing all these activities that we as hearing people do, but a lot of hearing people that know nothing about sign language, have that idea that deaf people are different, and they’re not.”

— Rebecca Mazzara

There were vendors and organizations at the event, with many helping to educate people on the Deaf community. Both Deaf and hearing vendors sold various items from laser engraved wood to quilts. Organizations present included the MinnePaul Athletics Association of the Deaf, ThinkSelf and members of St. Catherine University’s ASL program, located in south St. Paul.

Molly Barry, an alumni and senior at St. Catherine, volunteered as a translator for the event.

“Students can come and take ASL as a foreign language requirement,” Barry translated. “Students can minor or major in ASL, and major in interpreting.”

ASL students prepared for the event by spending the whole school day mute April 23. Exempt from all verbal communication, besides when necessary, students communicated only through ASL and writing. American Sign Language is not a direct translation of English into hand movements, but does commonly use the same sentence structure of a subject, then a verb, followed by an object.

Sophomore June Frederick demonstrated how to sign one’s name in ASL. First she placed her hand flat on her chest and tapped twice to sign the word “My.” followed by making an X using the middle and pointer fingers on both hands for the word “Name.” She ended her sentence by hand spelling her name using the ASL alphabet.

Currently SAHS does not have any deaf students, however many students taking ASL already know someone in Minnesota’s Deaf community of about 200,000.

Junior Carson Madsen said he started learning ASL after he met Greg Gunderson, a Deaf racer at the Cedar Lake Speedway.

“We have this radio to tell us if there is a cation on the track,” Madsen said. “He doesn’t have that. He just looks at the lights.”

The Deaf community is very tight knit, but also very welcoming people who want to learn about Deaf culture. Deaf Awareness Day and most other Deaf events are open to the public, regardless of whether they speak ASL or not.

Mazzara said the event is a perfect for learning more about the Deaf community.

“The cool thing about this is it’s going to make people aware that Deaf people are no different than any of us,” she said. “They’re doing all these activities that we as hearing people do, but a lot of hearing people that know nothing about sign language, have that idea that deaf people are different, and they’re not.”

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