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ASL Students Learn from the Bay Area Deaf Community
In photo from L to R: Michaela Escorcio (ASL 3), Joshua Bernaldo (ASL 3), Taylor Vierra, Juliana Holmes, Juliette Ingram, and Jane Bacon (all ASL 1).
American Sign Language instructor, Ms. Vania Ellison, invited her students to attend the recent annual Deaf Bay Area Expo at the Alameda County Fairgrounds. ASL students at all levels came to see the Deaf Bay Area community, practice their signing skills, and learn what services, organizations, and companies exist surrounding ASL and Deaf Culture.
Ms. Ellison believes that understanding Deaf Culture - through other books, articles, films, television shows, and social media - is one of the most important aspects of learning Sign Language. Her classes frequently discuss historical events, important individuals, cultural norms, and personal anecdotes.
Ms. Eillson’s favorite part about the Expo was introducing her students to her best friend who is currently in an ASL Interpreting Preparation Program, and another college friend who currently works at the Deaf, Counseling, Advocacy and Referral Agency (DCARA) in San Leandro. “As a child, I grew up attending the expo with my family and it had been a few years since I have attended,” she said. “It meant so much to me that my students went and that I was able to share this experience with them.”
According to Michaela Escorcio ‘18, “It was so cool to meet new people and learn more about the Deaf community right here in the Bay Area! It was also pretty great to apply the skills I’ve learned the past three years in ASL class to an actual event.” Josh Bernaldo ‘18 added, “Being able to use the skills I learned in my ASL classes was one of the most gratifying feelings ever. I’ll admit that I was nervous when I first entered the building, but I found myself signing with my friends and with other people at the booths. I even found a booth about Deaf schools in the Philippines, which was a moment of pride as a Filipino-American learning ASL. Michaela and I left the expo enriched within a language we love and keychains with the sign for 'I love you' in our pockets.”