I think yesterday was a fairly bad day.
Let me start from the beginning, which will require me to jump back a day or two:
Wednesday was my third Sign Language test out of four for this course. It has no final exam, just in-course tests. All of us thought the test would be next week, but on Tuesday, the teacher told us it would be the following day, so we all had to hurry and pull something together. Tests 3 and 4 are presentations on a topic of our choice. I picked a Bible story suggested by a friend and presented on that.
By the time I finished presenting, I knew I hadn’t done what I had intended to do from the beginning: sign slowly. I think when I’m nervous, my mind moves very fast and the words I say or sign try to keep up; sometimes they succeed, others, they don’t. This time they succeeded; I’ve never fingerspelt so fluently. But the blank looks from my classmates during the questions section told me I had gone too fast. I went way under the allotted time.
So, the next day,Thursday, yesterday, I met a classmate to go visit the Deaf primary school near our campus; a fairly regular thing we started doing. So, she started telling of her woes over the test; woes we all share to some extent. And, as I’d expected, she shifted focus to me:
I come across, apparently, as being inconsiderate, not signing slowly so others can see. She had said before that I sign fast and I’ve been trying to slow down… but apparently to little avail. And worse, she said (as I expected) that I seem to be showing off: Ooh, look at me, I can sign and you can’t!
That left me feeling very not-good.
Then, we headed over to the school; and, well, basically, we didn’t get to go because they were too busy. (“You should have called first.” “We did call.”) So, my classmate decided maybe we should go to the high school right across the road; we ended up going because a very nice Deaf guy we know encouraged us.
But to be honest, it felt largely like a waste. Let me explain: I… don’t like people. I guess the proper term is ‘shyness’, but ‘don’t like people’ is what I call it in my mind. When you go to a Deaf school, you know it because the Deaf people (especially students) look at you a whole lot, very questioningly (rudely by hearing standards). That makes me uncomfortable. When we were placed with some students (nice people) we sat there most of the time all shy. (I can’t apply ‘don’t like people’ to my classmate; I’d never want to put that label on her.)
And worse, they asked if we want to sit in on a class to see the signing; we said sure (it was raining anyway, and walking in the rain isn’t fun). But the teacher is a hearing teacher who used signed English while he spoke; that was very annoying to me. So, we got little chance to develop our receptive skills then.
Last of all…. man, when the students sign to each other, I understand nothing. I think that’s why no matter what people tell me about my signing fast or well, I don’t believe them. What I can do the sanctuary of the classroom where the teachers sign slowly and are not going to laugh at me or be annoyed (or at least show annoyance) is nothing. When I am outside, I feel tiny; and lost.
And it doesn’t help that I don’t like people.
The semester is almost over; no more JSL class, no more JSL classmates. Will I get up out of my house and go out of my way to sign with Deaf? Or will I forget all the little I’ve learnt over the summer months?