ASD 200 Opening Ceremony
Welcome to the Washburn Art Gallery - the Linda K. Jordan Gallery. The Gallaudet University Museum is thrilled to host this exhibit opening with the Office of the Provost, the Office of the President, and the Board of Trustees. We are opening the Language, Culture, Communities: 200 Years of Impact by the American School for the Deaf. This exhibit is on loan to us by the Connecticut Historical Society and they worked closely with the American School for the Deaf archives, staff, alumni to produce this exhibit. It was there for their 200th Anniversary (of ASD) in 2017. After their exhibit ended, they loaned it to Gallaudet University. So we are very grateful to the Connecticut Historical Society for that loan.
Today we will have some brief remarks then following snacks and exhibit tour.
I want to introduce Janie Golightly, who is currently the Chair of the D.C. Chapter of ASD Alumni Association. I also want to mention that there is another ASD Alumna who is also a board member - Sue Mather who is here with us today, and is also an ASD Alumna. Janie, would you mind coming up here to share your experience with seeing your history in the museum exhibit.
Hello! First of all, I want to thank the Provost's Office and the Office of the President for their support in having this exhibit here. Very beautiful display here. ASD has meant whole world to me, from the time I was very little. I entered the school at the age of two and stayed there until I graduated, then I came to graduate from Gallaudet University. My uncle also graduated from ASD in 1934, then 30 years later I graduated from there in 1964. So, I have a strong bond with ASD. I have to thank ASD for making me who I am today. There were huge numbers of Deaf teachers, dorm supervisors - I'm sure that Sue can vouch me for that. It was incredible and I'm proud of it. I also became the school librarian for about five years before I moved to Washington, D.C. While I was there, I helped set up a small museum in a smaller space and since then it has grown and blossomed. Today I can see this in this exhibit room here with pride as it continues to grow. As everyone can see, I'm here as an Alumna as a testimony that ASD is the historic first school in the U.S. I am so proud to be here so that you all can enjoy seeing this exhibit here. Thank you.
I want to introduce the Chair of Board of Trustees, Tiffany Williams.
Hello, thank you for your introductions. The Board of Trustees is delighted to sponsor this opening of the ASD 200 Years exhibition here. I want to make a few remarks here. One of the most important lessons as you go in and browse this exhibit is that it truly represents that not only Clerc, Gallaudet, and Cogswell were involved in the creation of ASD, but rather it took a collective village along the way to make ASD a reality. In retrospect, many benefactors and teachers made this happen. I am sure that some of you can agree. The creation of Gallaudet University parallels ASD's, with similar philosophy. Gallaudet University is committed to deaf education starting with Kendall School many ages ago in 1857, and continues on today as the Clerc Center as we provide quality education today for students in the Washington, D.C. metro area as well as throughout the nation. At the university level, at Gallaudet, again, it takes a collective village, as they say, "it takes a village," that concept is reflected here as well. At Connecticut's ASD and Clerc Center/Gallaudet have similar themes. So we want to recognize the Board of Trustees, administrators, faculty, and staff for investing in our students in the way that Clerc and ASD have done. Enjoy your event.
Of course, last but never least, President Cordano.
I am moved to see everyone being here today for the reception and to see this exhibit here relating to ASD. The founding of ASD was a historic event in our country and throughout the world. That moment when it was founded, for the first time in our country, set the tone for the value of visual access and visual learning through sign language. That tradition influentially progressed throughout the country by creating many schools that produced very successful students through 12th grade. That success created a crisis in this country, where students could go next, given their ability to succeed. It is proven that they thrived through sign language. As these schools appeared across the nation after creation of ASD, the community needed more access to higher education. Of course, it led to the creation of Gallaudet University. That is why it is very fitting for Gallaudet University to host this exhibition honoring 200 years and celebrating all the contributions that deaf education has made thus far - over 200 years - beginning with our beloved ASD. Secondly, our first president was the product of Hartford, Connecticut. He grew up watching his father, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, and saw the effectiveness of sign language education. When he was asked to be the president of what became Gallaudet College, he accepted it, with the full understanding of its bilingual mission of visual learning for our students here. But I have a funny story for you here, many people were influenced by Hartford, Connecticut - as you may not know, regarding my presentation at my alma mater, Beloit College, when I received an Honorary Doctorate from there last May. The reason why I chose to go to Beloit College - there was a connection - when I first saw that their first president also came from Hartford, Connecticut. He was the teacher at the New York School for the Deaf, then he decided to establish a college out west based on his experiences. I picked Beloit College because of their connection with a teacher for the Deaf, who could sign. It's amazing how to see all these connections stemming from Hartford, Connecticut, where passion of creativity, and accessibility of learning, grew and touched many lives, including mine. Thirdly, this marks a very important celebration of 200 years by looking through stories in this exhibition. With that, the notion of signing and learning through our eyes by using sign language, has been challenged in the last 200 years. We've gone through storms and conflicts - and still do today - relating to bilingual education to a point where today, 200 years later, we have a renewal of our commitment through the understanding of science and collective experience that show sign language indeed does work. Then from our civil rights movements such as DPN - in its 30th year anniversary this year - is a good example - all that we have learned from today's modern science that has proven that our brains don't discriminate against languages - people do. This 200 year celebration really begins a new conversation in this country and throughout the world - it is no longer a binary conversation anymore, as in "either or." We now accept both languages: signing - visual learning - and reading and writing English. So as you walk through this exhibit here, remember your journey and remember the journeys that have gone before us ... then start thinking about what's possible in the future. This 200 year celebration really kicks off a new era that we all are going into as a community. Thank you all very much for coming here today and for being part of this celebration. And, thank you, Meredith, your team, and the Gallaudet University Museum for the inspiration to step in and bring this exhibition here - things don't just happen by themselves, without someone stepping up to say, "I want to do this, and I will make it happen." I really appreciate you and your team, as well as the Schuchman Deaf Documentary Center for your support in this effort too. Again, thank you!