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H Street Festival showcases diversity of neighborhood

Image: Gallaudet art students form the letter H in front of the Art Department booth during the H Street Festival.

Gallaudet art students form the letter H in front of the Art Department booth during the H Street Festival.

Gallaudet University demonstrated its close ties with the neighborhood by participating for the third year in the annual H Street Festival, held September 21 and hosted by H Street Main Street, a nonprofit organization with a mission to celebrate and promote the vibrant H Street corridor.
 
The festival, which takes place between the 400 and 1400 blocks of H Street, only a few blocks from campus, is an event for the local community to come together to browse among the multitude of vendors' booths, and enjoy art, poetry, a wide variety of performances, and plenty of food. Performances by Gallaudet students, staff, and faculty took place all day at the 13th Street stage, just south of H Street. The 8th Street and Gallaudet stages had interpreters, including deaf-blind/low vision, for the performances. Members of the University community were encouraged to show their school pride by wearing Gallaudet gear.

"Gallaudet is part of the fabric that makes the Atlas District/NoMa/Trinidad area unique, and the festival draws people from all over the region who experience that vibe," said Kati Morton, planning and research coordinator in the University's Program Development Office and campus liaison for the festival. Morton also worked with Gallaudet Interpreting Service to arrange interpreters at the two stages. "Being involved with the H Street Festival exposes the neighborhoods around Gallaudet to the campus community," Morton said.

A group of students from Kendall Demonstration Elementary School opened the show with two dance performances, which proved to be a big hit with the crowd. On the Gallaudet Stage, Chelsea Lee, a sophomore from South Brunswick, N.J. who is majoring in psychology, performed a song, "Take a Bow," signing to music provided by Reminiscence Productions. Festival patrons were also drawn to the Gallaudet Art Department's booth, where students' art was showcased.

"It's my first time here at the H Street festival, and I love the music and the crowds," said Amberlin Hines, '17. "This festival is deaf-friendly." Hannah Helms, who is taking interpreting classes at Northern Virginia Community College, said, "It's cool to see people signing," since a large crowd of signers isn't the norm at most festivals, "and it was fun to see the Gallaudet Stage."  Kari Olney, '09, said she enjoyed the festival because it "is very artsy, very creative, and deaf friendly."
 
Ernest Willman,'16, a communication studies major, said the festival attracted him because, "I like the blending between the deaf and hard of hearing communities, and to see what D.C. has to offer." Shannon Boelter, '14, a family and child studies major, agreed that the blending of cultures made the festival an ideal venue to spend her Saturday. "I feel inspired to be here," she said.

--By Megan Clancy

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