On Friday, November 19, I had the privilege to giving a presentation at the California School for the Deaf in Riverside. It was the most fun I have had in a long time. We arrived early since they wanted to give us a tour of their 62-acre campus. We took a golf cart around since it was so big! We met many students and teachers and saw their diverse curriculum which included mechanics, silk-screening, technology, cooking school, art, among many other programs. There are some amazing art students there and we talked with a couple of them about possibly illustrating a picture book that I’ve written.
I have been taking ASL (American Sign Language) at my school for about two months now. My parents and I did have an interpreter in the beginning when we talked with the superintendent but during the campus tour, I acted as the interpreter for my family. Mom and Dad were surprised and very proud that I was able to communicate as well as I did with only two months of ASL.
In my opinion, ASL is probably the easiest language to learn since it is made up of a lot of common sense gestures. For example, the phrase “I will go and come back” or “I’ll be right back” is signed by simply pointing to your chest for “you” and pointing with both hands in the direction you are going, then pointing back with both hands. It makes sense. So even with limited ASL training, I was able to understand almost everything that was said.
I did make one crucial mistake at one point since I wasn’t paying attention as much as I should have. One of their deaf teachers asked if I was deaf. I knew what he was saying since we had learned that early on in our class. For some reason I said “yes.” He did not know any different so he assumed I was deaf. Our tour guide had a surprised look on his face and laughed, realized my mistake so signed to the teacher, “No he is not deaf!” That was a funny story that I can’t wait to share with my ASL class.
Before we knew it, it was time for me to speak at their assembly. It was so exciting! I stood in their gym in front about 180 high school students. I had an interpreter sign as I gave my presentation. I wanted to show the kids that I knew some sign language so I did my introduction in ASL. They all cheered when I signed and seemed excited and happy that I was learning ASL.
Again, time flew by so fast and the day was over. The kids went home for their Thanksgiving break. The school services kids all over southern California so many of the kids are bussed as far north as Bakersfield and all the way down to Mexico. I wished we had to leave but could have stayed longer.
I loved the opportunity speaking at their school! It was so much fun. I hope I can go back at some point. Maybe someday I will be their interpreter.
The video of my presentation is now on my YouTube channel. Click here to watch it.