By JOSE ‘PABLO’ ANTONIO/South Kern Sol
BAKERSFIELD–The smell of hot savory pizza and the sound of laughter caused by the friendships forming filled Tony’s Pizza across the street from the Bakersfield College campus.
People were having a great time conversating through the use of their hands.
Students taking American Sign Language had the opportunity to interact with people from the deaf community, put their signing to the test and got to know the deaf culture a little bit more.
Department Chair for Foreign Language and American Sign Language Tom Moran, 50, said that deaf events such as this one have been going on for 40 years.
“In order for students to learn a foreign language,” Moran said. “They need to be in an authentic conversational setting, to be able to have a spontaneous conversation with a stranger and have learning enjoyable.”
Bakersfield College student Jessica Lopez, 18, has been hard of hearing since the age of 6, said she enjoys learning American Sign Language because it’s fun and enjoys helping and teaching signing.
But for Bakersfield College student Dreidet Perez, 22, ASL is more than just a fun language.
“In society, in general, rejects those who are not as everyone else. Rejecting those who cannot speak is just being wrong,” Perez said. “Yes, ASL may be a bonus in my life, but I see it as a bonus to the deaf community.”
Perez plans to major in ASL after receiving her credentials and becoming an interpreter.
“Feeling like I gave something back in return for all God has given me,” she said.
Overall ASL is not just a class, it’ a peek into deaf culture.
“Not many people understand that deaf people are a cultural people,” Moran said. “Deaf people are kind of invisible in our society, so this way our students just don’t learn a language they also learn a culture with a rich history.”