Ohio Today Spring 2012

Page 27



hen Becky Brooks lectures, everyone is silent — including her. As the coordinator for the Deaf Studies Interpreting program, Brooks lectures in American Sign Language, and to visit DSI 111: Sign Language and Deaf Culture I is a mesmerizing experience: Emotions are conveyed by facial expressions, and questions are answered and asked through signs. The only sound is the frequent laughter of her students. “Our approach to language is unique,” Brooks says. “It’s all based on immersion. And as a result our students are able to carry conversations — basic conversations — very early in the process.” The Lancaster Campus is home to the DSI program and a very active ASL club that sponsors events every quarter (bowling nights, skate nights), drawing attendees from the local and Columbus-area Deaf communities. Brooks requires her students attend one or two of these sponsored events to interact with others. “In order to understand the language, you have to understand the culture of the signs and how to use them,” she says. Each quarter, students are invited to a three-day Silent Get-A-Way at Rocky Fork State Park or Camp Oty’ Okwa. With activities such as games, skits and lodge dinners planned, the camping trip seems like most others — with just one twist. First offered in 2007, the getaway is intended to be a complete immersion in Deaf culture and language; participants agree to communicate via ASL the entire weekend. This fall, Ohio University’s switch to semesters will allow professors to offer several exciting new classes, Brooks says. These include visual gestural ASL and miming, which will help students develop their physical gestures and expressions in tandem with their signing skills. “People think ASL is just a language of the hands, but it’s not. It’s a language of everything you are,” Brooks says. » MARIEL JUNGKUNZ


(pictured on the back cover)

For Jenny Chabot, service is an integral part of learning. The associate professor of child and family studies has led two student service trips to Cape Town, South Africa, over Ohio University’s winter break. This year, 11 students volunteered four weeks with the pain management team at Red Cross Children’s Hospital, while also serving at a handful of other sites throughout the city, including pediatric medical clinics and a medically assisted orphanage for young children. “I’m a real advocate of service learning,” says Chabot, a certified child life specialist. “It really provides a huge service to the hospital and brings to life what I’ve been teaching them in the child life courses here.” The students who traveled with Chabot are pursuing a concentration in child life — a field that seeks to normalize the hospitalization experience for children and their families — and earned two credit hours for their work. Ohio University is only one of two colleges in Ohio that meets the standards for child life certification. “I’ve never done anything like this before,” says senior Christina Schumacher, who participated. “But especially with (child life), the more you can learn about diversity and leaving your biases at the door, the better off you’ll be to provide support to children and their families.” All students in child life are required to complete 500-plus hours interning at a children’s hospital, according to Chabot. The university has a 100 percent passing rate on the certification exam, taken once they successfully complete the required child life internship. » MONICA CHAPMAN

spring 2012

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