"At first I was scared to communicate with Deaf Americans because I do not understand American Sign Language (ASL). However, when Deaf Americans took me under their wing and showed me key ASL words, I felt mutiger (roughly translated as courageous) to communicate with other Americans and engage in U.S. Deaf culture.
I found it very interesting to see how the teachers engaged Deaf students. Classroom observations had a profound impact on me, in that I was able to see a new approach to learning. I saw that teachers were sensitive about facilitating visual communication, that they respected a deaf person’s space in terms of touch and body language, and that they managed classrooms in ways appropriate to Deaf culture. From my perspective, the KDES, MSSD and Gallaudet undergraduate courses facilitate an environment where Deaf students can learn more.
On campus, I entered a Deaf world and encountered the American Deaf culture. As a German hearing woman this made me feel like a minority. However, from this experience I have developed a greater understanding for the experiences of my German Deaf friends, in that I finally comprehend what Deaf people have to experience on a day to day basis. There is a saying in Germany that goes Wenn Du Gehoerlos bist, bedeutet es von der Gesellschaft ausgeschlossen zu sein, which roughly translates to 'If you are deaf you are have no access and are thus outside of mainstream society.' I recognize the feeling of community isolation and I hope to never forget such a lesson."
- Katja Bauer