Easy Signing's Student Travels to Africa
Before embarking on his journey to the country, Ghana in Africa, James Gilbert, a Peace Corps (PC) member took Easy Signing’s Beginner’s ASL classes. He was referred to Easy Signing by International Institute of Minnesota. James was seeking an opportunity beyond the Peace Corps language training to learn American Sign Language.
His new job was to teach the art of batiking to Deaf students at a deaf boarding school in Koforidua, Ghana for the sake of some talented students possibly turning it into a livelihood. Although James only had 8 lessons through Easy Signing, he noticed some differences in sign vocabulary in GSL.
James informed Debbie of the invaluable grammar training he had received from her class. For an example, the school day there always starts with an assembly signing the Lord’s Prayer. He said, “At first I learned it word-for-word like the spoken version. Well, your arms get tired pretty quickly signing it that way!
So, after paying closer attention I saw that the students were signing it like the way you taught us to construct sentences. Plus, I discovered that students could understand me much better when I phrased my sentences that way. Sounds like a small point but actually it made a huge difference for me, and it's a lesson I learned from your class and not in PC language training.” Debbie continues to teach ...Read More
her C. L. A. P., Culture, Language, Application and Practice curriculum in each of the four tiers in her 4-6 weeks classes so that students like James can see and understand the differences when they are exposed to another native Sign Language and English!
Debbie Lawrence, Easy Signing’s owner smiled when she received James first report back. He wrote, “It's exactly how you described it -- the heat, the water sachets, the trickling showers, the fufu. It's all that, sure, but yet it's also something beautiful and magical. I'm having the time of my life!” From Debbie’s prior experiences with living in several African countries, she was able to give James promising ideas as to what to expect.
He found it all to be true, included learning how marginalized deaf children are there. He said, “In some cases, parents regard their deaf children as a curse from God, and shun them. Even more accepting families never bother to learn sign, so they have no way to communicate with their deaf kids. In many cases, these kids are relegated to working on the family farm because no other future is seen for them.” The 200 deaf students ranged from Kindergarten through JHS 3. In their own community, deafness is no longer a barrier. Rather, it is a level playing field for them.