Thursday, July 28, 2011

Shanga Sign Language

Our group went to Shanga, a place where people who live in Arusha and are disabled can work. Shanga is Swahili for bead, and this place was a bead/craft making workshop and gift shop. There were quite a few people who worked there and we were able to see people making and sanding beads and making other crafts. One of the bead makers was going very fast it was very cool to see his technique. While we were watching him, we saw the group of people in that area all using Tanzanian Sign Language. I myself use American Sign Language so I was fascinated watching them.

The director came over and he knows how to speak Swahili, English, and Tanzanian Sign Language, very impressive. He would interpret for us what the deaf people were saying and our responses or questions to them. We all introduced our names then the director said we could go to the sitting area and one of the girls would come over and teach us some Tanzanian Sign Language. There was a board that had words in Swahili and English and she showed us the signs for them. Our whole group was signing and I was very excited to learn and enjoyed watching the rest of my group sign also. There is a person at the place we are staying who uses Tanzanian Sign Language so I wanted to be able to communicate with him.

Once we learned Tanzanian Sign Language I was asked to go up and show the same words in American Sign Language. I really enjoyed showing them my signs and they loved learning it. All of the deaf workers there came over to watch and they asked me a whole bunch of words to show them and they usually laughed when they saw the difference. It was a fun, interactive experience. This went on for about a half hour and then one of our group leaders asked for a picture with everyone so we all got in a picture. That is a picture I will always cherish.

~Katharine Choate

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