Unique Experiential Learning Opportunity Immerses SES Students in Deaf Culture

Posted on December 06, 2018

October 25-27, seniors and juniors in the K-12 Deaf and Hard of Hearing Teacher Licensure Program in the Department of Specialized Education Services (SES) took a trip to Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. for Gallaudet’s homecoming weekend. Gallaudet University is the only liberal arts university in the world specifically for deaf and hard of hearing students, and is considered internationally as the center for Deaf culture and American Sign Language (ASL).

The SES students toured two K-12 schools that are on the Gallaudet University campus: Kendall Demonstration Elementary School, which serves preschool through middle school deaf and hard of hearing students, and the Model Secondary School for the Deaf for high school students. They also attended a presentation by the Clerc Center on cutting edge resources for professionals in the fields of Deaf Education, Interpreting, and for parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing. They attended several Homecoming activities on the Gallaudet campus, including a pep rally and football game, an Academic Bowl competition, and a tour of the campus museum. Throughout the weekend, the SES students were fully immersed in Deaf culture and the history of Gallaudet University.

Above: SES students are fingerspelling ‘UNCG’ in front of the famous (in Deaf culture) statue of Thomas Gallaudet and Alice Cogswell (Learn more about the statue’s history and meaning here.)

“This trip helped broaden my horizons, and consider being a part of more than I could have ever imagined,” said Celeste Matos, an SES student in the K-12 Deaf and Hard of Hearing Teacher Licensure Program. “The world is so much bigger than Greensboro, and visiting this landmark for deaf culture helped me really understand how much opportunity is waiting for us after graduation.”

Another student, Gianna Goslen, said that going to Gallaudet was the best experience she has had since being in the Deaf Education major at UNCG. “Learning about the Deaf community and Deaf culture in class is interesting in itself; however, being immersed in Deaf culture at Gallaudet was amazing,” she said. “Before the trip, I had never signed for such a long period of time, and so Gallaudet was an amazing learning experience for improving my ASL skills.”

In addition to the university, SES students also visited the first Starbucks in the U.S. that uses only American Sign Language. This store just opened in October and is near the Gallaudet campus, and it only employs Deaf people and those fluent in ASL (hearing customers who don’t know sign language must write down their orders0. This store is designed to be Deaf friendly, featuring open spaces, matte finishes to reduce glare, a board with names written to know when your drink is ready, and it is decorated by Deaf artists. It was a fantastic opportunity for the SES students to practice what they have learned during their licensure program at the UNCG School of Education!