Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Deaf X-mas in Japan I: The Good News

Subtitle: A Global Deaf X-mas

I had the pleasure of attending a party for a visiting Deaf couple from Norway in Namba, Osaka on Christmas evening. Another participant was a Deaf man born in Argentina and living in Italy. I was the only American and the only hearing person as well. The Norwegians and Italian attended Gallaudet University and are fluent in American Sign Language (ASL). There was one Deaf Japanese man (who had also attended Gallaudet) who acted as interpreter as most of us had little experience or knowledge of ASL. I studied ASL for a year or so in grad school, but since coming to Japan I have forgot most of it. I was able to introduce myself in ASL, but needed my Japanese friend to interpret my Japanese Sign Language (JSL) into ASL for the Europeans to understand. Are you following me? This was truly a globalization moment in Japan. It seems as though Deaf people from all over the world attend Gallaudet and learn ASL. ASL seems to be becoming the lingua franca for Deaf people in international settings. However I was told by one of the Norwegians that International Sign Language is more widely used in Europe. Anyway, the evening was fun and cross-culturally educational for all. This is how Christmas should be - peace on earth...

Sorry I couldn't come up with better pictures for the event - I only had my cell phone camera with me. And most of my photos ended up looking like this:

What do you expect with Deaf people moving their hands, arms and entire bodies all of the time? Yet another challenge for visual anthropologists...

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