KISSFIST Magazine: Issue Four

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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Frank Levy Gallimore



ABOUT THE COVER ASL 12"x12" Oil mixed with canvas

An oil painting by Iris Aranda, a deaf Panamanian and a professional artist in oil, acrylic, watercolor, pastel, ink, ceramics, wood and metal sculpture, and photography. Her work has been exhibited in Central America, South America, Cuba, and Europe. She has also worked UNESCO, OAS, and CSD.

Editor’s Note Dear Reader, We try to avoid any outright theme for each issue. We try, instead, to keep it open, so that surprises may have their way. And as usual they have. There is a decidedly international diversity to this issue. Here, you'll find art and literature by or about people from as far as Nepal, Panama, and the UK. Some seek to inspire you, while others strive to challenge preconceptions. What is refreshing, however, is that in the midst of such individuality, there is so much in common. In this issue, many of our contributors are Deaf, hard of hearing, or have some direct relationship to the signing community. Here, you'll see that bond crossing international borders, blurring distinctions, and furthering unions rather than divisions. Much has happened since the release of our last issue. I'm happy to say I got married and so did my sister Rosa Lee. Her husband Damon Timm, who I am now proud to call my brother-in-law, is a techsavvy web developer, without whom I am sure we would be lost in a sea of ones and zeroes. In renewing and strengthening these bonds, we face a bright new chapter of our lives--just when "these tough economic times" has become a catch-phrase on the minds of so many journalists, home owners, and just about everyone else. But it is always in either the greatest or the worst of times that we find so many people talking about the same thing, sharing the same hopes, fears, and ambitions. In other words, we reveal our humanity--and are better for it. The quest for a sense of community has rarely been more urgent nor more often fulfilled by this troubled era, which leads me to question what a community is. How organic it seems, shifting its borders, its membership expanding and contracting, while the very definition of membership itself remains ever elusive, always on the move. If one can hardly reduce the idea of a community under a concrete label, if it is never one simple thing for long, how can it have a voice that isn't in some ways fractured, complex, and contradictory? I prefer to think of these differences as variations on a theme, that theme being the story of our survival. We eat, talk, pray, or choose not to pray, for the same reasons the artists, performers, and thinkers in this issue have brought their works to light. There is something vital about the human expression of what we love. We are bound by it and always it triggers something profound in us to see, however different it may be, the heartfelt expression of another. The contributors to this issue are often searching for something, whether it be for enlightenment, a means to spread awareness, or simply a way to make the best of a difficult situation. Some evoke a sense of mystery, while others delight. By reading these articles, we as readers call on these artists and thinkers to remind us of our humanity, to tell from their own perspectives the story of our survival. With a few words here, a photograph there, life's casual emergencies--what not to eat, what accents to put in your hair, how to stretch a budget--are transformed into opportunities to embrace life. With luck, these are embraces that don't come down to dollars and cents so much as they do a bit of courage and good will. And with good will, I wish you happy reading!

Editor in Chief







Deaf Aritst Panama

Deaf Writer Washington, DC

Deaf Photographer Michigan

Deaf Poet Washington, DC

JOHN LEE CLARK DeafBlind Poet Minnestoa


Deaf Poet Maryland

BOBBY COX Deaf Poet Washington, DC

MELISSA HUBER Deaf Fashionista New York

FRANK DATTOLO Deaf Artist New York

FRANZ KNUPFER Deaf Writer Nepal

ALYNN DAVIS Deaf Virtuoso Arizona

JAY KRIEGER Deaf Writer Indiana

Deaf photographer Chicago



Deaf Photographer Canada

Deaf Poet Illinois

AIMEE MILLER Deaf Poet Oregon

AWET MOGES Deaf Comic Artist California


RAYMOND LUCZAK Deaf Poet Minnesota

ANTHONY NAPOLI Deaf Poet Washington, DC

LORIANN MACKO Deaf Artist New York

LAUREN RIDLOFF Deaf Artist New York



Deaf Writer California

Deaf Poet Maryland

kissfist On this issue, KF is featuring a photo series taken by Devon Whitmore, a deaf photographer from Chicago, along with deaf artist Lauren Ridloff. The focus in this photo series is on facial expression as a part of American Sign Language.

DEVON WHITMORE Deaf Photographer Illinois

TORONJA WILLIAMS Deaf Blogger New Jersey






12-15, 33
















28-31, 35-37




today i am me


CHARLIE SWINBOURNE CAPTURING CHARACTER Charles, a deaf writer, director, and filmmaker from England takes some time off from his hectic work schedule to share some insight into his career.


KF: According to your website (, you've worked in television, literature, theater, and film. You've won the Best European Film Award at the Rheims Film Festival in France. Your films have had as much as 85,000 views on YouTube. And you're a monthly columnist on Deaf life for BBC's website Ouch! ( Do you ever have trouble juggling so many projects in so many different fields? That's a good question. I have to keep myself well organised! Funnily enough the best thing I ever did to free up time was to cut down on watching TV. Years ago I started to spend my evenings writing and sending off my work (rather than in front of the box!), which led to paid work in the media. Bit by bit I got work in different disciplines, which gave me a variety that I now really enjoy and feel fulfilled by.


When people are born deaf, or become deaf, they are labelled as deaf by the people around them, without ever really being able to stand up and say exactly what that deafness means to them.



KF: Do you approach all these different forms of expression with the same mindset, having similar goals and ideas? Or is each field very different to you?


I am predominantly a writer, and whether it is a script or an article I am working on, the constant in my work is that I like to try and tell people something they haven't heard before, with humour. I think that humour is a great way of engaging an audience and making them connect with the story they are seeing. Coming from a deaf background, my main goal at the moment is expressing new things about deaf people and deaf life through the characters in my films.

KF: Where do you get your inspiration from? If I notice something I feel strongly about such as discrimination for example - then thoughts about that subject will go on in

my head until maybe months later I'll think of a way of expressing that through a dramatic situation, and start to write it and try and resolve it. The amazing thing about drama is it has the potential to put the audience in the mind, and therefore the situation a character finds themselves in.

KF: If you had to say your work strives toward a single goal or statement, what would that be? Or does that change from project to project? Every project is trying to say something different, but if there is one goal I could highlight from my work so far, it is to try and create work which presents a new perspective on deaf life, that hopefully deaf people will appreciate, and hearing people can learn something new from.


KF: As your work gains international interest, do you find yourself wanting to comment on more global issues like politics or popular culture? Or do you find your material more from local experiences, things we can all relate to in our homes and families? I have a degree in Politics so I am constantly reading the papers and forming opinions about the world, and what is happening in our society. But I debate my views in private, not in public, at the moment! In many ways I am more interested in everyday situations in terms of my writing, because I think that real life is in the way we act with one another, with our friends, families and strangers, so that is where my work tends to focus.

KF: How long have you been writing and making films?


I started writing scripts four years ago when I took a screenwriting course at a college in London, which gave me the confidence to start putting my ideas on the page and showing people - then trying to learn where I was going wrong, and occasionally right! Since then I've had some success, and some disappointments but I'm hoping that I can keep improving and learning from people around me.

KF: How has your work affected your life? It's been amazing to have such a good response to my films online, and I feel very lucky to have websites like YouTube

available to spread my work. I think that YouTube represents an amazing opportunity to deaf filmmakers to get their work seen by a wide audience, and to get feedback from their audience, without feeling limited to festivals alone. I have also faced new challenges because often, when you have some success, you also find that you get more criticism, which is a new thing to learn to deal with!

KF: For television, between 2005 and 2008, you were part of a film crew, filming an undercover hidden camera expose of High Street shops and documenting life in the favelas of Rio De Janiero. Do you have any plans in the future for continuing this kind of traveling hands-on journalism? Where do you see your work going in the future? I would love to travel more and make that a bigger part of my writing - both of those filming experiences were tough, and in terms of the hidden camera expose, I had to make sure I said the right things and didn't reveal my camera, hidden in my bag! It was a great learning experience and hopefully it made an impact on screen and revealed the lack of access in shops on the high street in the UK. I'd love to face those challenges again. KF: In your popular film "Coming Out," you used humor and irony to capture interest and provoke thought in your audience. Do you feel humor is essential to what you do? What's the most important thing you want your audience to experience when reading or seeing your work?


Coming Out I think humour is a great way of making an impact on people, because (this is obvious!) people enjoy laughing, so if you make them laugh, hopefully they'll keep watching your film, pay close attention to it and remember the message you were trying to put across. Coming Out was very personal to me - it came from a feeling I had that sometimes the true identity of a deaf person remains hidden to those closest to them, such as their family or friends. When people are born deaf, or become deaf, they are labelled as deaf by the people around them, without ever really being able to stand up and say exactly what that deafness means to them. So I showed a deaf boy having the chance to do that, to 'come out' and tell his mother his own personal truth. It's the script I'm proudest of.

KF: Lastly, what motivates you? What makes you passionate? I'm motivated by telling people something they've never quite heard before, in the most enjoyable way possible. Hopefully I can carry on doing that!




P Victoria Calaman



i paint my room with watercolors. mud on my tea dress. a girl with a kaleidoscope. way to see the lights all faded. even the superman couldn't save the fashion victim and the batman kissed Princess Ivy. this reminds me of how i used to love the snow. the world is always smaller than planned. i'm going to buy a piece of paper today. it needs no reason or rhyme. not the "OMG this is soo cute" kind of crazy, but the "buy a plane ticket to wherever this dress lives, find it, steal it and introduce it to my cats" kind of crazy. just totally random. and you know it. i'm just a golden mermaid, sitting here and loving the four seasons, out by the window. a peppermint candy cane in my hand and a camera in another. i'll flash you a smile and wave with my tail fin.

everyday dreamers making difference



A.C.O.R.N. Theatre Camp became a reality when a thirteen-year-old deaf boy from Brooklyn, New York received a rejection letter from the National Theatre of the Deaf Professional Theatre School in the Summer of 1981. Due to your age, we are unable to provide this training experience, it said. Please do not hesitate to re-apply when you have reached the age of 18 years. The letter echoed like a bad case of tinnitus. During the long lost years of that dark age, he hoped to see the light of his dreams. He managed to salvage them by watching the long lost footage of My Third Eye. His dreams came true when he enrolled into the school upon his graduation from Gallaudet. After a long range of theatrical experience, he celebrated his enlightenment by founding this deaf theatre camp for deaf and hard-of-hearing adolescents. This was the beginning. Frank L Dattolo


The A.C.O.R.N. Theatre program promotes and fosters Artistry, Communication, Opportunity, Resourcefulness, and Nurturing for deaf and hard of hearing middle and high school aged students. It also promotes pride, selfesteem and independence, and it does so by using theatre craft in an outdoor retreat-style environment

The summer theatre program is for deaf and hard of hearing middle school to high school aged students throughout the U.S. It is essential that deaf children be given the artistic opportunity to take pride in themselves, and present themselves to the hearing world in a competent, confident way. This upcoming summer program will be operated under Frank L. Dattolo and Camille Lorello at the DeSales Center in Brooklyn, MI.


To get more information about this program, go to and locate A.C.O.R.N. under the Summer Programs.


Misty Skye Dreumont


Gone from our home but not from our hearts Is a meaning of a brand new start Surrounded by trees That dance with glee Are the deceased They lived life as they pleased Their tombstones are engraved With their names People came From all over the world To see the old To see the new To feel the dew They say life isn't fair But yet they keep on swallowing air The world keeps going And we are still strong Standing here full of tears She says, "don't weep my dears The journey has just begun."






in sign we trust


P Mark Levin


Eyebrows raised. Pupils dilate, a smile awaits. I know what's coming next, It's the punch-line and I missed the whole thing, but I catch on and fake along. Day in and day out it's the same flow, so this is how the story goes.


Each morning I awake to the silent fate that I was meant to face. Luckily I've gotten the opportunity to put in a pair of ears and live life somewhat fake. I thought I understood what was being said, however, instead I fill in the blanks and nod my head. Just recently I was asked if I even understood the words that were coming out of their mouths...

The only time strangers really listen is when I talk with my hands, and these folk, can't even understand (my fingers a-flarin), staring as if my dialogue is an open read blog. It's one thing to stare, but when you pull up a chair, prop up your elbow, and rest your fist under your chin, and watch as if you're watching fights on don't know me, and when I turn to ask if I can help ease their curiosity, their jaws drop in disbelief; "Holy can speak?" All the sudden now, I'm a circus freak. There is one thing hearing folks don't get, there's a difference between hearing, understanding, and listening. If people realized that shit, most relationships wouldn't be so wack. I can hear...but can I understand? be honest, sometimes I don't give a damn.




hen I think about the fall, I think of a small town in south New Jersey called Haddonfield. The memory smells as fresh as a full bloomed rose although it was long before I discovered Anne Frank at thirteen years old, and experienced inspiration for the first time. Driving two hours to Haddonfield also meant rounded great aunts with warm smiles, delicious food hot to serve, and a proud Italian grandfather, whom we call Pop Pop, spoiling the children. WRITTEN BY



All these things made Haddonfield the premier destination of my early youth.

It all feels like it came from a storybook by Louisa May Alcott's The Little Women, but settled in a lovely and quintessential Haddonfield. There were four sisters who lived near enough from each other to smell what was baking, hear what song was singing, or see which room’s light was on. On a big yard with big handsome trees, the homes were set within a circle and less than a block from each other; they were the Bloemeker girls. They happened to be my grandmother and great aunts. For a child like me, there was always something happening in that town. The town had the ambiance of Colonial

times and gorgeous Victorian homes, unique shops, and the streets that filled my father’s childhood. All these things made Haddonfield the premier destination of my early youth. In Haddonfield, I see myself as a little dark curly haired fiveyear-old girl, wearing a navy blue dress, and I was covered with a woolen red jacket that my Aunt Betty made. With my little hand, I’d feel it being held by my older brother as we started out the door that opened for lighthearted children like us to go into our own world of imagination. Our skin shone by the sunlight that broke through the trees, leaving smooth

and wandering marks of natural light on the broad green field. We stood in the middle of the yard, and I remember how it seemed as if a thousand colors had started to flutter from the sky. Surrounded by these colors, I wondered if it was a lost art waiting to be painted. Astonished, I looked up, my brown eyes blinking against the


I didnʼt smile but gave him this shocking face, putting my index finger on my lips. Shh.

sunlight, only to see that what I had found mysteriously beautiful were the leaves that fell from the trees. Every one of them was once attached to what were supposed to be tall, strong, and protective trees, but the colorful pieces gracefully left and independently danced onto earth. The golden leaves stood the most. The gentle wind told me it was November, the only time of the year that I, the child, could remember when beauty started to rain, giving nature something to share. Delightful and almost Christmaslike outside, breezy cold, but you’d know it was

Thanksgiving by the smell inside of Aunt Martha’s house. Hours passed and I was sitting on the side of the long wooden dining room table surrounded by my laughing relatives. My excited aunts were the only ones who were standing up, running around with joy, preparing and serving a homemade Thanksgiving feast. Across from me was my father looking at me, but I didn’t stare back at Daddy; instead I was looking at the turkey, festive for the occasion. In the corner of my eye, I could see my great aunts decorating the table with food. The candles that were on the table

brushed against their faces, showing the insides of their eyes, making them seem gentler than ever. At that exact moment, I felt two enormous warm hands cupping my small face and kissing my cheek from behind. I squirmed in my seat when I realized it was Pop Pop. I stood up on my seat jumping into my grandfather’s arms; he picked me up and spun me around, then put me back on my seat. I felt him grasping my


shouting Thank-you’s, baby cousins wailing, brothers laughing and nagging each other. As hectic as it was on the table, my relatives became attentive when the heiress of the household, my Aunt Martha, clasped her hands so to say the feast was to begin. Works of art don’t keep people apart, not if they love each other. I looked around the room at my relatives for a moment before turning around in my seat, my was the magic of art that kept them together, never apart.

small hand; when opening my palm slowly, I saw that he had slipped candy Kisses in my hand. He went around the huge dining room table, sat next to his eldest son, my father, and winked at me. I didn’t smile but gave him this shocking face, putting my index finger on my lips. Shh. Something wonderful that was strictly between a grandfather and his granddaughter which Daddy must never know was a thrill for a kid like me. An expected silence filled the table as everyone took their seats. It lasted only for a spilt second; before we knew it, people were

head resting on the wooden armchair looking out of the window. I saw the color red falling onto the ground as if specifically for me. This was when I realized I see moments through rosecolored glasses. The memory mends to my side, never letting go. On that nostalgic Thanksgiving night in a calm Haddonfield, I remember how the trees shared their beauty with the earth; it was the magic of art that kept them together, never to part. They, as one, made one of the most beautiful things in the world: the natural falling of colors.


P Anthony Napoli



can you see the rainbow in my tear drops like when the sky sheds its tears. oh yea darling. i can. cause the sun always comes out, shining like a reborn star in the darkest, unholy hour. oh yea darling, just to make rainbows. oh yea darling, a rainbow in each tear squeezed by clouds, and your eyes. and certainly mine. look for the rainbows darling. in each tear drop. every one of them. oh yea darling. if you can't see them, i'll show you where you can find the rainbows. oh yea darling. i will.

A Film by Ryan Commerson and Wayne Betts Jr


“THE ANSWERS ARE CLEAR...� This film draws on the work of cultural studies theorist Stuart Hall in an effort to examine the nature of representation and ideology. The goal is for the Deaf community to understand "how we got here" and what we can do about it by seizing control of the media as a means of putting forth a different representation of what it means to be d/Deaf.

RYAN COMMERSON Deaf Producer, Screenwriter, and Activist Colorado









ne day a chicken found me eating the last of the baked hickory honey barbeque potato chips while sitting on a long piece of wood out on the Chumash Trail. The wood, which was covered in tar, was split off a post from the entrance. The trail was one-fourth a mile out from the comforts of homes and streetlights, down the hill. The sun was pushing the horizon, casting off delicious Big Stick Rainbow Popsicle cake batter. The trail had set its hill farther away from the last suburban white picket fence with all its makings of a single mother with three sons, the last child born a few months before and her live-in father. The house remained dark. The chicken looked healthy and fat. It came up my way then maneuvered over patches of scorched bushes. This had been the site of constant wildfires and there was growth cast against the burnt. The chicken clucked, its comb swaying with the pollen and spurs brushing against the dirt. It glanced at me, somehow its eyes missing its mark in my direction and then down its feet. It belonged to the house, yet it knew I was there. It kept its distance.

I was brought here with the rain as if disposed just a few hours earlier. The baby had gone through a newborn hearing screening at a nearby hospital the day he was born. The results of the test scared the mother. In fact it frightened her to the core. How could this happen?! The doctor said, “I’m sorry,” nothing else. Desperate, she shook her father’s maracas repeatedly near the baby’s ears, yet the results seemed to validate themselves more and more. She didn’t want to think about giving out cigars. Yet, she had noticed one other thing, which she told to her best friend: the baby responded more to her touch than her sons did and as each day went by, she saw also that the baby smiled when she used her face and hands. She noticed this right away because she too had been a visual child. Spoken words somehow seemed to float in the air, waiting to hinge on to some meaning. In his stories, her father would use small discreet gestures she relied on. He didn’t use gestures without purpose, but when he did, she was somehow transported to a place of comfort and belonging. She saw that he knew. She saw that he enjoyed this. She saw that this child was a gift even before she felt remorse. A gift. A new focus. She couldn’t comprehend where to start. There were doctors who seem just as clueless. "We will refer you to an ENT specialist to talk about a cochlear implant.” It all seemed so mechanically inclined. Cochlear implant. Surgery. Implant. Implanted. Change the gift. Alter the gift.



Her best friend, the baby’s father’s sister, who had become sort of a surrogate for the father’s side of the family, had listened and prayed. She, like the mother, felt the gift. She had spurned this coming of a revolution because of the gestures and smiling. She too missed subtle gestures her own family used in the home, but felt ashamed of in grocery stores, ashamed as a visitor of America, though her family had been here for fifty years. And since her brother, the baby’s father, had visited less and less, and exceedingly less since her sister-in-law became pregnant, theirs was an understanding of acceptance and full disclosure. Nothing in life was guaranteed. His chosen path had more to do with a path she dared not follow. It had nothing to do with the baby, but more to do with learning and acceptance. The chicken was moving back downhill, the sky getting darker, the moon waxing to a thin half circle. I usually would be gone before the new moon. A car appeared in the distance, its lights shining brighter as it approached. I moved down the hill as if by force. The chicken clucked and flapped its wings, half flying down there. I greeted the mother’s dad who stepped out of the car. I shook his hand. He didn’t need an introduction but looked at me knowingly, smiling, and made his way to the house, awaiting his daughter’s return with the grandchildren. Turning back, he lifted his hand up to his lips, kissed the palm and blew it over my way. With that, I went onto a new life to smile about.






the revolution is here




The Inauguation of President Barack Obama Written by Toronja Williams

POLITICS Standing at the National Press Center building, the Inauguration Day Celebration becomes an all-around event



n Inauguration Day, I depart the Marriott Park Wareham hotel in Washington, DC and flurry down to 4th and Connecticut Avenue. As I quicken my step, I glance at crowds of politically conscious people walking together in groups and pairs. As I bravely face the brisk cold weather--18 degrees Fahrenheit with the wind chill--I suddenly appreciate being warm with several layers of clothing on me. I wear my blue, red and white articles to show my patriotic spirit on Inauguration day. On my coat, I wear several pins with pictures on them of Barack and Michelle Obama and Joe


Biden. I travel with my digital and video cameras, extra batteries, and camera cards stacked in my Jansport backpack along with cash and a credit card. I bring hot packs to slip under my gloves to keep my hands warm. Noticeably, I am fully prepared to witness this once-in-alifetime swearing-in. It is the 44th Inauguration ceremony, and of the first American-American President of the United States of America. I certainly can’t miss seeing him take the oath of office on that 1861 bible that Abraham Lincoln used. " As I ambulate toward the area of the National Mall, I meet a staff member from the University Presidential Inauguration Conference (UPIC). This is a conference for scholars to participate in several workshops and seminars, as well as some Inauguration festivities meant to culminate in the full Presidential

Opposite of my direction, hundreds of thousands of people battle through massive crowds eager to witness Inauguration history.

Inauguration experience in Washington, DC. " As we creak along, I scowl at the many roadblocks. Metropolitan police officers and National Guard troops emerge to motion drivers and pedestrians toward the Inauguration at the National Mall. Off of all sides of this street, I see only one open road for drivers. I ponder how even at 7 AM on Inauguration Day, the roadways are packed with Americans traveling by foot. The idea of having an automobile seems pointless. " I arrive at downtown Washington and notice black market venders selling Inauguration Day merchandise items, anything from buttons and posters to tee shirts and jackets, hats and gloves with the Obama Inauguration logo on them. I even see venders selling bold and wacky patriotic items like

red, white and blue Uncle Sam hats. On one hand, I immediately think that these items are wild and fun to wear. On the other hand, I think it’s preferable to wear fashion that blends with the rest of the crowd, keeping it low key. " So, I sally forth to 4th and Connecticut Avenue and enter into a coffee shop. While I order a cup of tea and chocolate covered beans, in the window of the coffee shop I marvel at the long endless line of people sallying forth to the parade. " Around the corner from the coffee shop, I head over to the National Press Center where the other UPIC scholars arrive to unwind, chat, and watch the inauguration on a flat screen plasma

TV. I meet my interpreter and we immediately take off to 4th and Pennsylvania for the parade. We jostle through a massive crowd arriving at the security checkpoint. I begin to feel paranoid of getting trampled on or stampeded over in the battling onrush of the crowd. But we make our way through the security checkpoint safely as authorities begin checking our bags, coats and phones for any potentially hazardous items. Then we enter the parade route as record-shattering crowds approach our way. Suddenly, it becomes so pointless to remote anywhere from where we are destined. From west to east, the parade routes are completely barricaded. I feel trapped but soon forget about it. We find a


Draping American flags surrounding the Inauguration ticket holders at the Capital, witnessing the Inaugural address ceremony.

good spot. Where I stand, the atmosphere is both jubilant and humble. Everyone is liberal and eccentric. We feel liberated here and I become closely interlinked

experience the "Purplegate,” in the "Purple Tunnel of Doom". " I glimpse at the Capitol building 10 miles from where I stand and about-faced toward me

But now, everyone exalts and hoorays “Obama! Obama! and Obama!”


with this civic-minded crowd. At the left end of Pennsylvania Avenue, I cast a glance at the other end of the tunnel. Though I don’t realize it at the time, in two days I would see that that same tunnel had become an epic, as hundred of thousands of people were trapped inside and calling their inhumane

The newly sworn-in President and First Ladyʼs motorcade cruises down Pennsylvania Avenue.

are groups of excited people, including a group of Gallaudet students witnessing the event together. With courtesy, I introduce myself and politely join them. As I stand in a near-blind spot, I can see the National Guard troops on every building aiming their weapons in the air.

" Where we are standing, at the midpoint, there are no nearby Jumbotrons. Therefore we hear only the chants coming from the massive crowds. But luckily an African-American lady behind us has a portable radio and the volume is turned up. My interpreter can hear the burbled voices coming from the receiver and interprets the actual inauguration ceremony to me in

it elevates and heightens me. I start feeling fueled with joy and excitement. Boos from the crowd echoed for past Presidents and cabinet members. But now, everyone exalts and hoorays “Obama! Obama! and Obama!” " I can feel the encomium of chants and cheers vibrating from the ground again. I chant and clap along. I can hear the "Hail to the

American Sign Language. Our President Barak Obama is now swearing-in, reciting the oath of office, and is newly declared the 44th President of the United States of America. When the rounds of exclamation and applause begin to fill the air, deafening cheers and shouts vibrate from the ground, and

Chief" and a 21-gun salute played by the U.S. Marine Corps band. Several messages are advertising in my mind. It is official. It’s HISTORY. It’s TRUE BUSINESS. A dream has come true. It’s not subterfuge. A few minutes later, we move one block away to 5th and Pennsylvania Avenue to observe the parade. As


Metropolitan police officers and National Guards providing maximum-security on both ends against the middle on Inauguration Day.

take the oath of office. Getting to be a part of it is so enthralling. I am transfixed and bombastic. " Obama has sparked fireworks in all of us. Glass ceilings shatter down. In a one-dimensional view, we may contemplate the repeated ceremony of the Obama inauguration on television anytime, but at this vantage point, we cannot experience this once-in-a lifetime, priceless experience ever again. I would not trade this experience for anything else and I am totally fulfilled. This is the most stimulating experience of my life, one that I could never have had in any history class lecture or textbook. " As the crowds dissipate, I quickly leave the parade route enthused with a new sense of purpose. I embark into the era of Obama with hard work ahead, with determination and the persistence to chart untapped territories and opportunities. Although the 44th President Barack Obama was sworn-in by oath, he is not alone. We are part of this inauguration, too. As he was sworn-in on


we fiddle about, I take snapshots of the Newseum, the Canadian embassy, and the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), an African American women's organization. The roadway is packed with diverse people. As we arrive at a designated area, I stand close to the front gate. I see hundreds of Metropolitan police officers and National Guard troops standing before us. " At the parade route, the US Marine Corps, US Navy, and US Army march with their flags and guns. I begin taking pictures. Then the secret service arrives with the newly sworn-in President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in a black heavily-armored Cadillac motorcade. " As the President’s motorcade comes, I hold a digital camera in my right hand and a video camera in my other hand constantly taking snapshots and filming every detail of the historic scene. But, the President and the First lady do not exit the car. I am not disappointed. I am content being part of this history of witnessing our President

Abraham Lincoln’s 1861 bible, we had also sworn-in implicitly. Perhaps it’s taboo to say such a thing, but it is true business. In the face of two global wars and economic collapse, Obama envisions us fulfilling his hopes and promises of renewed national unity. Thus, this experience is both enriching and powerful to me. " As I hasten back to the hotel inundated with these transformed feelings which elevate me and heighten my awareness, I begin to look forward to departing to the Inauguration ball held at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. With this Inauguration day buzz hanging in the air, I know that I am ready to celebrate with an ambitious campaign for continuing change in different social and cultural trends from various communities.




we honor silence





MICHAEL DAVIS I value and respect my Mexican culture and it is unfortunate that there aren始t many Deaf Mexican artist out there. This motivates me to make a difference.

Deaf Mexican Actor, Model, and Dancer CALIFORNIA

Viva La Raza!


RAW FOOD Alynn Davis



Living Raw is not just about eating raw foods. It is about what you do, how you think, how you feel, and how you live your life.

ne of my passions is to prepare and make masterpieces with vivid colors and flavors of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Mind you, everything I make is not cooked! Animal products are not on the list (for a long list of reasons). In other words, I make/ prepare raw gourmet meals, snacks/goodies, desserts, and so on. Living Raw is not just about eating raw foods. It is about what you do, how you think, how you feel, and how you live your life. Even without these realizations, I was about 80% raw growing up. Every time my mother offered us four kids something to eat, I always–ALWAYS– opted for fruits and/or veggies. I hated anything sugary, canned, or whatever didn't seem natural.


Perhaps I listened to my body, and instinctively knew that eating fresh fruits/veggies is better than eating processed/packaged foods. I have been allergic to dairy since birth (which is a plus!) and became vegetarian/vegan in 1992. Thanks to a dear friend of mine and May Wille (another loving friend), I was informed of the raw movements and raw lifestyle. When I was told about raw food, my first reaction was, "I do eat raw–apples, oranges, celery, etc‌ So?! What do you mean by Raw Foods?" They explained that eating raw meant nothing was cooked, processed, all organic, living naturally, etc., etc., etc. From there, a friend and I took moments to study, research, and educate ourselves about the raw lifestyle before becoming 100% raw. Then one day, as we chatted,, out of the blue, we looked at each other, read each other's mind, and blurted out "Let's become raw!" We jumped onto this path, became 100% raw overnight (with no transitional phase) and have been loving it ever since! I believe what makes us truly unique is being who we are. Being

more conscious of who we are and why we stand out. A double whammy of standing out is being deaf. Just because we are deaf doesn't mean we are clueless! My goal is to educate and communicate with every being. Over the summer, I was copartner and Cosmos of Bliss Manager at Bliss Cafe & Chocolates in Sedona, AZ. I had spread my wings toward here (Phoenix area) from Tree Of Life Rejuvenation Center as Co-Head Chef and Chef Instructor for nearly two years (from Sept of '05 to May of '07). Prior to that, I spent my time and spread my lovely energy working for Rawsome! Cafe in Tempe, AZ from Oct '03 to Sept '05. I earned my training and gained knowledge at Ekaya Institute of Live-Foods in Ojai, CA, where I obtained four certifications as Raw Food Chef, Nutritionist, Personal

Trainer, and Lifestyle Coach. During and in between these times, I served as personal chef and catered weddings, special Valentine's dinners, and events. Not only that, I flit around as an activist and educator for the Deaf & Hard-ofHearing Community, promoting consciousness, speaking volumes about living in the world of an ecohaven. Before landing in AZ, I had fluttered through NY, NC, and a few other states.


Life is grand. Life is beautiful. You are given one chance to live in this lifetime. What more can you ask for? Who cares if you have blue, hazel, or brown eyes? Who cares if you're tall or short? Who cares if you're big or small? What really matters is how you're living your life. Love life and embrace it! Take it to heart and grow! Blossom! Show your beauty! Be the person that you are! It is about living your life in an optimal way. It is about choices, it is about becoming something you never thought you would become. Alynn Davis



P Raymond Luczak


A noise: gazes of strangers whiplash as one, a school of fish changing directions, heading that-a-way until another noise

snaps their eyes elsewhere. I shimmer along their waves of sound, monitoring.


Where your eyes point that sound, I follow, the quicksilver that I am, hoping that you will return to me, a glint of nickel in a sea of undulating krill.







Ramblings of a Self-Confessed Shopaholic By Melissa Huber

FASHION Current Shopping Style: Being a Recessionista



ven though the economy's in such bad shape lately, there's no need to let it get us down, fashion-wise! Being a recessionista is wise these days, and there's plenty of ways to stay stylish on a tight budget. Let me tell you what you REALLY need this season to stay stylish. As for this season, hmmm .... You know the saying, March comes in like a lion, but goes out like a lamb. In some areas of the country, March, and even April are one of the rainiest months. Don't let the rain cramp your style. All you really need is a cool trench coat and a stylin' pair of rain boots, and an umbrella - and you'll be wanting to go out in the rain just to show off your style! I used to curse the rain here in New York City until I got a cool pair of leopard rain boots from a girlfriend who I'm forever of indebted to, and now I actually don't mind going out in the on sta: i t i n to i snow/rain just because I know I look cute while keeping my Defi ssion is able t while e o e tootsies warm and dry at the same time. For the severe Rec rson wh ht budg ess r e fashionista, there are even high-heeled rain boots out there if ig A p to a t ng to d i k you hate wearing flats. I used to be this way, my first few years stic anag m in New York City, I chose fashion over comfort. I searched high still hly. is styl and low before finding these cool high heeled Banana Republic

to pep you up on these blah rainy days! As for umbrellas, I say that it's silly to spend bucks on an expensive umbrella because if you know what it's like to walk around in the rain ON a windy day, your umbrella's pretty much likely to be crushed after a few times of using. (Thank goodness for these "five dollar" umbrella vendors) However, if you DO want to splurge, there are plenty of cute umbrellas out there for very reasonable prices. Google online for cheap umbrellas, visit stores like H&M, Target, or Old Navy for really cute umbrellas that won't break your bank. Note: DO keep in mind your "rain boot/trench coat" look when picking out your umbrella- your umbrella can be a major accessory. The "trend Gods" must be on our economical side this season, because pretty much everything that was "hot" last season is still hot this season. Flower dresses were big last season and still are a big trend this season. Bring them out and start wearing them in the cool spring months by pairing them with tights and a cardigan, with a Chunky necklaces and baubles are big this cool wide-waist belt. season, and will be big for some time. Invest in No need to wait until summer to an outrageous item, and stretch the usage by pairing it with a tee shirt, or tank top. It'll not only bring out your dresses again. Wear serve as a necklace, but also as a decorative your long dresses now, with belted piece for your shirt! Let the necklace be the cardigans. To keep warm underneath, "center of attention". Use it with a strapless top, wear tights. You can mix/match your so that it shows fully. OR with a full collared shirt winter and spring/summer wardrobe to (short sleeved or long sleeved) so that it shows off the necklace. (ex: would not look good with a get the most out of what you already halter top or strappy tank top). In this case, the own. If the texture of your sundress isn't


rain boots. I have to admit they aren't as comfortable as flat rain boots. By now, I've given in and chosen comfort over highheels, but I realized being comfortable doesn't necessarily mean giving up style. So many cute flat rain boots out there - polka dots, stripes, or even plain but boldly colored ones. Let's be thankful for the long-lasting trendy look of skinny jeans tucked into boots. Tuck your jeans into your boots, and you're good to go! Again, mix/match rules apply here. If you have a funky pair of rain boots, pair them with a one-colored trench coat, or else you'll look clown-ish. Trench coats are everywhere this season, and they come in so many colors. Bright colors, even, which are sure

Don't forget, as mentioned in the last issue, to google promo codes when shopping online. I realized that in some ways, it can even be cheaper to shop online THAN to buy in store. Say you have an ArdenB in your area. You see something you like try it on in store. Try looking for it online, and then googling promo codes, which give up to 20 percent off the retail price AND provide free shipping. Ta-da, you get the item for MUCH cheaper! Even if you see you like something online, but don't see it in the store, buy it for cheaper online. If aren't sure of the right size, you can always order two sizes, and keep the one that fits you best, and return it to the store, get your money back. Free "returning" and getting the item for much cheaper - a bonus! KISS-FIST FASHION

A plus - clothing tends to be stocked more online, rather than in stores, where they may go fast. Yes, you may have to wait a bit longer, but in the longer run, you save so much more money!


Recessionistas Can Shop, Too!

too flimsy, pair them with cool patterned tights, and your winter high-knee boots.Patterned tights continue to be a hot thing this season. Make them spring-like by letting the tights do all the talking instead of wearing boots, wear a pump, to show them off. Pair them with a sweaterdress, and you've got another great look! Gladiator sandals are still hot this season, and they've even gotten a make-over. The new gladiator sandals/wedges out this season are even more intricate with the design, styling and even color! But if you can't afford to splurge on a new pair of sandals, that's ok -- your gladiator sandals from last season are IN and they can pretty much go with everything. Skinny jeans (ankle-length, though), skirts, sundresses, even short shorts for those of you who are lucky enough to be capable of pulling off the look! Patterned shawls were a big accessory last fall/ winter and can still be this spring/summer. Pull out the shawls you already have and wearthem around your shoulders when wearing a "simple" outfit for an instant styled look. When the temperature rises, wear them with your tankops or as a light cover-up when going out in the cool

Knit Harem Jumpsuits are showing up everywhere this spring season. Strapless, strappy, halter-style, or even racer-back style. We've seen models and celebrities pull this look off --- is this look doable for the regular woman? I say it is a DO! Why? While many may think of this style to be "unflattering", it can actually be VERY flattering, given the material. A stretchy loose material can actually be very flattering because it conceals your flaws, but do be mindful that this can give off a "hippy" look, which IS the purpose of this style. Everyone can pull it off, showing off whatever figure they have to flaunt. Ways to accessorize the jumpsuit - a thick belt to show some waist. If going beltless, accessorize it with killer wedges and a chunky necklace.

With Fashionable Love,

Melissa Email me at


Trend Do or Don't?

evenings. Even when itʟs 90 degrees, true fashionistas will wear them as a style accessory, like a scarf (think of all these LA celebrities we see‌) Wear your summery tops that you already have, update them and "warm" them up with cardigans. Lots of bow-tie shirts were in last summer and fall, and still are this spring, especially when paired with cardigans. Leave your cardigans open to balance out the look, or go for that "uptown chic" look by buttoning up your cardigan, but letting the bowtie part hang out. Bright colors were IN last season, and still are this season. I'm especially loving all of the peaches, corals and fuchsia colors this season. You may remember this picture that was in my very first issue. Here's proof that what WAS in is still IN -- this very top is still ever so popular these days ---- especially since it's bright. Good thing that being a recessionista is so "in" right now - you can go shopping all over again, but this time, the shopping trip's to your own closet ;-) Go on, shop and have fun!


Martelle Washington


A bond so innocent, so pure Used by the innocent ‘n the pure Doves cry just from the sight As they take their playground flight Traits, children resemble Relationships assembled From the littlest finger intertwined Eyes locked on one another Enfolded arms as the tender rhapsody assures. Do you pinky swear not to tell?


Vigilant I am Pinky swear, I will put my trust in you Never to disclose what i revealed to you I picture you, full of secrets Like the pages in my diary The recipient of my untold truths Could you be that one? To comfort me beyond wondrous measures? Could you be my confidant who holds the key to my chamber of secrets? If so, to you my secrets, I will reveal Do you pinky swear never to tell?

always stand corrected





Rory Osbrink and Karina Pederson Deaf Couple from California



RAGE Christine Kim, founder of "High Tea Feathers" has cleverly tapped into this trend by creating her own line of stylish feather fascinators that are designed to give a woman that "touch" of class and style!



hristine, known to many of us as CK, has credited former Project Runway contestant Kenley as one of her inspirations, as well as seeing high fashion runway shows. CK says feathers just remind her of unique rare jewelry that you see at auctions - each single piece is different and personalized. Wearing fascinators on your head just adds a whole different complexity to fashion. Think of bringing back the era of La Belle Epoque. Feathers may be trendy, but they are also timeless. If you can, invest in that one special piece that makes you feel like a true lady! "High Tea Feathers" - the name was inspired by thoughts of high tea parties, where women glam up and get together to unwind and gossip. Feather fascinators are like a tool to CK, a tool to make women feel hot and special instantly, a way of celebrating their womanhood. There are many ways to wear a feather. Women with hair of all colors, even texture CAN wear feathers.

By Melissa Huber

GLAMOROUS Wear a glam dress that doesn't have too many detailing and let the feathers do the stylin' Notice that Patricia has curly hair and still is able to pull off that look by wearing her hair back in a bun, and adding feathers as decoration. Even if Patricia was wearing her hair down and curly, she could still get away with it looking glam by adding one clasp of feather, in the back, for everyday wear.

Patricia Ordonez for glamorous look


I love the extra touch of glamming up your eyes with some shocking green eyeshadow (which is a big spring make-up trend this season) and wearing your feather as a rocking accessory.

Yelena Ab for rocking look


Wear something trendy here, jeans with an oversized sweater, or even a tank top when the weather's warmer. Perfect for this look!

EVERYDAY LOOK Here is a proof that feathers CAN be everyday wear, a "hint" of stylish pop! Wear something casual, even jeans with a plain top, and let your feather make you feel stylish! Alina here looks beautifully natural, and yet her feather fascinator goes with her look. Or one of my all time-favorite outfit ideas -- if you wear something all-black but wear an outrageous feather piece, it'll stand out beautifully and you'll feel as if you just splurged on a million-dollar outfit..

Alina Engelman for everyday look

There is a feather fascinator out there for you.


Melissa Huber

Check out CK始s website and be blown away (and tempted) by the countless choices of beautifully handcrafted feather fascinators. Heck, not only can you wear them in your hair, but if you want to take the trend further, clip them onto your tank tops (think Carrie Bradshaw's famous look - the rose on tank top, but instead with a feather piece) or even onto your purses and clutches.

P Bobby Cox



clear juice and apples a drop down the chin wince it's all gone and so am i



WHY I DRAW Great eye-to-hand coordination, cultural indoctrination (late 80's Transformers/Voltron cartoons; early 90's - Image/Marvel comics; late 90's - Heavy Metal art; early 00's - manga) and unconscious efforts at sublimation. We all have drives, and art is a certain way of sublimating those drives for selfexpression.

WHAT I始M WORKING ON RIGHT NOW In fact, I was inspired by Evangelion to do a graphic novel, complete with the postapocalyptic overtones and religiouspsychological-philosophical subtext. It's about mythology, religion, technology, theology, philosophy, ecology, and a host of other ologies. It's set in the distant future, but it is not your garden variety sci-fi tale for beyond the post-apocalyptic and post-Ragnarok future lies a post-human future.

Many things, particularly whatever seems to embody my ideals: Great comic book runs (Byrne on Fantastic Four, Simonson on Thor, Miller on Daredevil, McFarlane's Spiderman and Spawn) and great literature (Dostoyevsky, Borges, Nietzsche, Cioran, Sartre, Wilde) and great anime (Ghost in the Shell, Neon Genesis Evangelion, FLCL).





let’s find a place to breathe


P John Lee Clark



The world rests on my lap. If my finger is the sky, then under it the fields prosper. Row after perfect row of buds bid me gather all I can. The harvest is food for thought.





P Jay Krieger


In the scorching heat Riding down a country route Full of prairie In South Dakota Armed with water Smeared with sun lotion Full stomach Full gas tank Perfect!

Approaching a biker group up front That cruised at a leisure speed Harley fellow riders Wonderful!


Wanting solitude Opening gas throttle Engine guns and passes them by Riders grimace my roaring pipes Good! Down the route A large biker group Approaching by in a zigzag format They saluted Fantastic!

I noticed a stranded bike on shoulder A gal looking down Her frustrated boy on his knees Fidgeting on the engine Huh? My crowd in front The other crowd in my rear mirror Not one noticed Nor cared Jeez! Screeched to a stop Made an U-turn Guy looks up and waves 'go on' But gal pleads with her eyes Hmm. Guy thumbs 'all is cool' But gal gives out a 'gimme-a-ride' look Dismounting from my horse Gave her a bottle of cool water Caring! Guy thumbs up 'thanks' Gal waves 'thanks' Treated them with a thunder From my straight pipes Take care! Continuing on my way Catching up with life That waited for me Life is good!

Deaf in Nepal by Franz Knupfer

JOURNAL deaf Fulbright student in Nepal. Though he can't drink water off the tap unless he wants to spend a week on the toilet, he has enjoyed cooking fabulous Nepali meals with his partner Melissa. He has a blog at:


and yet at seventy, his hands moved as if he were a child just learning to sign. He'd been speaking Nepali Sign Language (NSL) for only a month, and had spent his entire life waiting, as a friend signed to me. Waiting: two hands at chest level, like a dog begging. When I first saw this sign, I thought it meant something else: a life of hardship, of being considered latto, the Nepali word for dumb. I've met many others who spent their childhood or even their early adulthood waiting, such as a 35 year old deaf Sherpa guide who didn't learning NSL until his late twenties.



ast August, I met Indra, a seventy year old tailor named after the Hindu god of rain. He was born deaf,

Indra's case is typical of many older deaf Nepalis. Just fifty years ago, there were no schools or programs for the deaf. Nor was there democracy, and Nepal was still a medieval kingdom, closed to the outside world until the 1950's. Nepal's first deaf school started in Kathmandu in 1967, in the neighborhood of Naxal. The sign for that neighborhood is the same as the one for naksaa, the word


A deaf Tamang villager, near the border of Tibet, who uses pantomime and basic home sign to communicate.

for map. There are now at least a dozen schools for the deaf in Nepal, scattered across the map, from Pokhara at the foot of the Annapurna Himalaya to Bhairawa in the plains of the Terai, near the border with India. There are twenty four deaf associations throughout the plains and foothills, though deaf living in the mountainous Himalaya are often without resources, isolated from the outside world. I've met men Indra's age in mountain towns near the Tibetan border, who speak only a few words of sign and are considered burdens on their families. But now deaf children are getting new opportunities at boarding schools like the one in Naxal, which has approximately three hundred students, and there are more jobs for deaf adults, including at the popular Bakery Cafe, which has a half-dozen chains and employs deaf waiters and cooks. Students at Nepal's deaf schools are learning Nepali and English in addition to Nepali Sign Language, though the standards for public education are low in Nepal, one of the world's poorest countries. At Naxal, students don't always show up to class, and the same is sometimes the case for teachers as well. There is rarely electricity at the school, and the whole country is under the grip of “load-shedding,� or scheduled power outages. In December, the power was out for an average of sixteen hours a day. Buildings are unheated, most

homes have no running water, and drinking water is often contaminated. The water is one cause for Nepal's high rate of deafness; others include meningitis, rubella, ear infections and tuberculosis medicines. Estimates for the deaf population run as high as 600,000 in a country of about thirty million. In a country with so few opportunities, being deaf is often considered a crippling disability. For example, the deaf have historically not been allowed to intermarry. Being deaf is considered a curse of karma; in other words, punishment for the sins of a previous lifetime. It is believed that deaf intermarriage will perpetuate this curse, passing it along to children

of a deaf couple. At a rally for the deaf in Pokhara, I saw a sign that read, “Deafness is a natural disaster, not a curse.� Here, anything is better than the stigma associated with having a curse on one's head. Of the deaf I've met who speak NSL, I've never met anyone who considers being deaf a curse. One friend of mine became deaf three years ago at the age of seventeen, after battling a high fever. Now he has a new circle of friends and the support of the deaf community. When I asked him if he was sad to be deaf, he said no. Another friend, a Sherpa in Class 9 at the Naxal school, believes that the deaf are now accepted in Kathmandu.


Students in Class 5 at the Naxal School.

it is as if the best of us was built within us


Once, concerned that I wouldn't be able to communicate in a marketplace, he negotiated prices for my vegetables with a hearing woman. Nepal's deaf community has been incredibly active in agitating for their rights and increasing awareness about deaf issues. Nepal has the only elected deaf politician in Asia; his name is Raghav Bir Joshi, and he is a member of the Constitution Assembly. The Nepal Federation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (NFDH), the parent organization for Nepal's deaf association, holds regular programs for the deaf throughout the country. I've had the chance to march in

His experience is all too common among Nepalis, both deaf and hearing: no education, illiterate, unemployed or employed with menial jobs.

several parades for the deaf, and this past September, there was a motorbike rally to protest laws that keep deaf Nepalis from driving. Ramesh Lal Shrestha is the president of NFDH. He is a charismatic speaker and rides a motorbike, despite the laws forbidding it. This past November and December, I had the opportunity to teach art to Class 2 and 5 students at the Naxal school. At the time, I couldn't speak much NSL, and there were only a handful of students at the school with knowledge of ASL. So I taught by drawing: cats, rockets and castles for the rambunctious kids in Class 2, and basic lessons in


joined the older boys for a cup of milk tea at a small shop near the school. A cup of milk tea is seven rupees (about ten cents), and a deaf man who cannot sign works there. When we visited, he usually watched us with a huge grin on his face, and yet I wondered how he felt about seeing other deaf people communicating. His growth is stunted, his teeth are crooked or missing, his hands are worn and calloused with work. His experience is all too common among Nepalis, both deaf and hearing: no education, illiterate, unemployed or employed with menial jobs. And yet he is always friendly, a warm smile on his face when he sees us.



perspective and shading for the older kids. Unfortunately, education in Asia, including Nepal, tends to be by rote memorization. Art class usually means making an exact copy of what the teacher has drawn on the board, but I wanted to challenge my students' imaginations. For Class 5, I asked the students what basic shapes, such as cylinders or pyramids, could become: the body of a rocket ship, for example, or the roof of a house. During lunch, I enjoyed playing soccer with the students. Between classes, I sat in the kitchen with Ramesh and others, slowly improving my NSL. After school, sometimes I


Ram Kushal Pant, a graduate of the Naxal school, founded Shree Manakamana and was the school's first principal. Of Ram's six brothers and sisters, three are also deaf, but he told me that his deaf older brothers know very little sign language and remain in their village, which is a five hour walk from Gorkha. Ram has also been the president of the Gorkha Association of the Deaf (GOAD) since its inception (and has been re-elected five times for his post). Most of GOAD's members live many hours', or even days', walk away from Gorkha, and like most of Nepal, the region is poor

This kind of environment creates a strong feeling of community and support among the deaf here in Nepal, similar to deaf residential schools in America.

to teach them what I know of America's deaf community. Teaching at the school and being involved in the deaf community here has given me a new sense of purpose, pride, and community. While I've spent much of my time at the Naxal school, I've also visited deaf schools in Bhaktapur and Banepa (on the rim of the Kathmandu Valley), as well as Pokhara and Gorkha. Gorkha has traditionally been the seat of the now-exiled royal family, and a frequent target of the Maoist-led insurgency that has crippled the country for a decade. The Shree Manakamana Deaf School in Gorkha began in 1998 with only four students.


and rural. Gorkha's deaf school sits on a ridge overlooking a forested valley, and from a nearby hilltop, there is a view of Himalayan peaks. Over the course of a decade, while thirteen thousand Nepalis died in the crossfire between the Maoists and the Royal Army, the Gorkha school was left in relative peace. Students began in Class 0 (the equivalent of kindergarten) with classes in sign language. Like the members of GOAD, their villages are usually many hours' or days' walk away. Often, their parents are too poor to visit them, and many are unlikely to be invested in their deaf children, who may be considered lost


I've been amazed at how quickly I've felt included in the deaf community here. When I first arrived, I was concerned that the cultural barriers would be difficult to overcome, but immediately, I felt the shared camaraderie of being part of the deaf community. Even before I'd learned much NSL, I was asked to give speeches at several events, and though I think my pantomime, mixed with ASL and a little NSL, mostly caused confusion, everyone was happy to have me and continued to insist on my giving speeches. I've had the opportunity to be a role model for the students at the Naxal school, and

Sanita, also deaf, and their eighteenmonth hearing daughter. Sanita teaches Class 0 at the Gorkha school. Ram and Sanita are one of many active deaf couples I've met in Nepal, and one of many signs that the stigma against deaf intermarriage is rapidly changing. Despite the obstacles facing this country, the deaf community here is vibrant, warm and inclusive. Just forty years after the founding of Nepal's first deaf school, deaf people in Nepal are no longer content with waiting, nor with having a curse on their heads. While the derogatory term latto is still sometimes used, a new generation of bahiraa, the word for deaf in Nepali, are growing up with new possibilities and a strong sense of pride in deaf culture.


Resources Fulbright (Fulbright is actively encouraging deaf students to apply.) Nepal National Federation of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing http:// Srijana Deaf School (Pokhara) Irene Taylor's Buddhas in Disguise, published by Dawn Sign Press


causes. A few students have even been orphaned by the insurgency. Now the school has 66 students, and the students that began in Class 0 are now in Class 8 (in the Nepali school system, there are ten classes, and once students pass their exams, they receive their SLC, or School Leaving Certificate). Next year will be the first time the Gorkha school has students in Class 9. When I visited, there were too many students to fit in the school, which has only two rooms, one belonging to GOAD. Students up to Class 3 had classes outside, and the older classes were crowded into a single room, each with their own blackboard and teacher. Just down the hill, though, is a brand new building, built with help from Hong Kong (Nepal is heavily reliant on foreign aid). In December, an official event complete with toplevel officials commemorated the school's opening, and a few days after my visit, the students moved into their new schoolhouse. The school at Gorkha is an example of how tightly-knit (and insular) communities for the deaf can be. The students live in the two-story hostel, where bunk beds are crowded side by side. Because of the school's idyllic location, it is isolated from the town of Gorkha itself. Students eat, sleep and study together. This kind of environment creates a strong feeling of community and support among the deaf here in Nepal, similar to deaf residential schools in America. While in Gorkha, Ram invited me to visit his house and to meet his wife,

P Aimee MIller


I am pregnant. I am eight months away from being born.

How could this happen? I am only seventeen. I have a lifetime ahead of me. It feels like a dream but soon it will be a reality. I have a lifetime ahead of me. There are other options, but I don't know. Isn't that a murder?

Am I being selfish or am I doing the right thing? Am I being selfish for wanting to live? Will people think that I am a horrible person? Oh, I want to be a part of the outside so badly.


Well, to hell with what others think! Bye, bye, baby... I am a MOMMY.




ASL ROCKS ASL Friends United (AFU) is a student organization at Austin Community College. AFU’s mission statement and goal is to promote the fine reputation of American Sign Language and represent both academic and community excellence. AFU is excited to host a free family friendly event that celebrates American Sign Language on Saturday, April 4th, 2009 from 10am to 3pm at Eastview Campus, 3401 Webberville Rd, Austin, Texas 78702 (building 8000, room 8500). This event is titled, ASL Rocks! ASL Rocks! will be accessible to all. This event will be conducted in American Sign Language, however, we will provide voice interpreters, DeafBlind interpreters and oral interpreters. Our number one goal is to recognize and embrace American Sign Language as one of the finest languages in the culture of the deaf community. Our other goals include socialization, awareness, and purchasing products and services. ASL Rocks! will be an excellent opportunity for the vendors to meet many visitors, deaf and hearing alike, from all over Travis County and surrounding counties. The targeted audiences are ASL users, Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals, ASL students, interpreting students, teachers of Deaf, Deaf-Blind, ASL/ Interpreting teachers, interpreters, families of Deaf, and observers. The program will include the following: showcase of students’ work, nationally well-known performance artist Mark Morales’ ASL storytelling, Dr. Bobbie Beth Scoggins (President, National Association of the Deaf and Chief Operation Officer, Communication Services for the Deaf), retail/consumer promotions, door prizes, artwork by deaf artists, and sign-song groups. We welcome your participation and invite you to consider exhibiting at ASL Rocks! or sponsoring ASL Rocks! or both. Booths are available at NO CHARGE. We ask all exhibitors to bring something to donate for a door prize. All vendors keep profit of any sales. Applications must be submitted by March 27th, 2009. We will confirm and follow up with details by April 1st.

by Frank Levy Gallimore