Growing up in a world with many disabilities and health problems, handicaps and syndromes, I never was unfamiliar with treating others with compassion, respect and interest. However, we’ve always had a common ground, and I’ve met many of my friends with health problems in natural settings. I’ve never honestly “truly” left my comfort zone to go looking for someone to be a friend to. I’ve attended a church in which there has always been a significant and strong Deaf population.
Deaf Church (and Sunday School)
Solid Rock Baptist Church 420 South White Horse Pike Berlin, NJ, 08009
Classmates who attended event also: None (However, I did attend the morning service with a hard-of-hearing friend who knows some ASL, Alyssa, but she is not a classmate.
Deaf person(s) interacted with at the event: We spoke to many of my Deaf friends I previously was acquainted with from church attendance previously. Their names are Milton Smith, Pastor Chris Harris, Doug, Anita and Barbara and Bob.
Event details/info: This event was a Sunday School class (10am-10:30 am) and a church service (10:30-11:30) completely for the Deaf members who attend this church. There were approximately 40-45 people in service today, and I was able to speak a little bit with many.
DIRECTIONS: Type your responses beneath each item. Use as much space as needed:
- Describe your role at this event.
Today I was an attendee, a listener, student, short talk conversationalist and friend.
- On a scale of 1 – 10 (1 = uninvolved observer … 10 = involved conversationalist), rate and explain your level of involvement.
I believe I was a 6-7 on the scale, as involved observing conversationalist. I believe this because I understood much of what was being spoken about during the sermon, understood questions asked to me, asked questions of my own to other attendees I spoke with, signed a short “autobiography” of myself as an ASL student to the Deaf Pastor (Pastor Chris), and introduced my friend Alyssa to my Deaf friends. However, I was a little slow in my “translating” ASL to English during the songs.
- Describe the primary topics of signed conversation at this event.
Because Pastor Chris is Deaf, and most of the attendees were also Deaf, the song service, the entire sermon, prayers and benediction were all signed. His wife, Diana, however, is hearing, and she voice interpreted to English the sermon only. The songs we sang were “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and “Trust and Obey.” Topics in these songs are about God, faithfulness, trusting, mercy and obeying, the sunrise and sunset, etc.
- The sermon topic was about evil in this world and what Christians can and should do in response to it. He explained that there were many different signs for “evil.”
- Conversationally, topics included my “ASL autobiography” (me as an ASL student), introducing me and Alyssa, “how are yous,” playing music, attending different churches, friends, family, visiting/ traveling and “victory.”
- Provide an example of how a conversational exchange was initiated and ended.
I began a conversation with my good friend Milton by walking up to him from across the room and tapping his shoulder, “Good morning; it is nice to see you!” He answered with “Nice to see you; how are you?” and I answered with “good, and how are you” also. Later, after service and other conversations, he asked me a question and I was able to answer: “Yes, I still play the cello and I drive alone!“ The conversation ended with “Will you take a picture with me and my friend?” and then he nodded and helped us pose. This was right before we left, so our conversation ended with “Thank you,” “nice to see you,” and “I love you.”
I answered Pastor Chris when he asked us, “Are you learning to sign?” We both were able to answer him with “Yes, we are learning now to sign- me at college and Alyssa in high school.”
“Good, good; it is nice to see you today! Thank you for visiting.”
- Provide details of when and how at least two ASL grammatical structures were used.
Grammatical structures that I noticed were placement and movement, and the use of eyebrows to convey punctuations. For example, Pastor Chris spoke about “evil” in the world and proceeded to give a few examples of what he meant by this, so he described one on his left side, another in front of him, and a third on his right side. He also used movement in each part to express the punctuation and context of his words. He got excited, sped up or slowed down, bent over, walked around etc to provide context and non-verbal linguistics.
He also used his eyebrows to convey meaning; particularly I noticed the WH eyebrows and also Y/N eyebrows. The Y/N eyebrows were used though more often as a rhetorical kind of question, since during a sermon he is not actually asking a question for an answer most of the time. For example, he asked, “You all know remember the news story about Ebola?” with his eyebrows raised and head slightly tilted; many of the attendees raised their hands in “Oh I see,” or nodded.
- Describe at least one Deaf cultural norm at this event that differs from hearing cultural norms.
The cultural norm that I experienced today that I remember most is that of getting one another’s attentions. It’s not rude or uncommon at all to tap on another person’s shoulder or tap the table or wall next to them to alert them. When I arrived, my friend Diane, an sign-English interpreter, introduced me to many people in the Sunday School and she did so by walking up to others, in a busy hallway, and tapping them on the shoulder forcefully until they realized someone was calling them. I met Doug this way. It differs from hearing cultural norms, as it is inappropriate or rude to touch someone, for most reasons, especially people you don’t know or know well. Something I also noticed and really appreciate was the amount of eye contact people give. I believe it is a good quality to have and lacking in a lot of hearing culture. I like that it is an essential norm in Deaf culture.
- Based on this experience …
- What ASL skill do you feel is your strongest and why do you feel that way?
Based on today’s experience, I feel that paraphrasing (comprehension) is my strongest skill so far in ASL, though I am far from proficient. I also think confidence in what I know and asking for clarification is a strong point… because I was among a people who mostly were very kind, I felt welcomed and able to ask them to help me learn ASL.
- What ASL skill do you feel is your weakest and why do you feel that way?
Based on today, I believe that my weakest skill is vocabulary and speed in conversations. I was able to talk to people, but limited because I do not know several signs for all the information I wanted to tell, and also these conversations were with people I knew well and were patient with my speed in understanding. With the sermon, it was easier to understand because it was only one person signing, so the way he forms his signs I was able to determine after a few times using the word. In conversations, there were many different people who sometimes used different signs or formed it differently and I did not pick up on it and became a little confused.
- What is one idea for strengthening the skill you feel is your weakest?
I plan to attend more events where I can comfortably learn more about ASL and DHH culture. I plan to sign with others in class in a study group and in my community to practice speed as well as learn more vocabulary over the next few weeks and continuing. I am currently working with some friends at my own church to perform a special music in ASL for Mother’s Day, where we are learning new vocabulary and placement/movement structure to a song called “How Beautiful.” I believe this is helpful in strengthening this skill as well as improving my comfortableness and confidence in signing.
- Summarize your level of comfort with understanding/participating at this event.
Overall, I was very comfortable understanding at this event, both with the sermon and other conversations, and also very comfortable with participating, during the “handshaking/greeting time” and conversations afterwards. I was a little hesitant at first to sign during the song service in the beginning of the service because I was familiar with the song and I had trouble speedily converting a beloved hymn I knew in English to ASL and then signing it. I enjoyed observing a deacon lead the song though and participated as much as I could. I enjoyed this event very much.
- Additional Comments?
The sign for “soon” in the context of “Jesus is coming soon” I found interesting as it was similar to “near” or “close” even though it really meant “quickly. I mentioned it in class after we learned “mountains” and other locations/directions, because it was similar. I am
ATTENDANCE CONFIRMATION AT ABOVE EVENT
& VERACITY OF THIS REPORT
Student’s Signature: Alexis Lauren Galacio Patti
Date Submitted: March 25, 2015
Note: typing your name on this form in the space above is considered your electronic signature.
Below are photo proofs of attendance.
Alyssa, Alexis (me) and Milton at Deaf Church (3.8.15)
Proofs of Attendance:
Church Bulletin (inside) (3.8.15)
Church Bulletin (outside/ front and back) (3.8.15)