104. A Signer Helps Students


Joan's job is to use American Sign Language to enable instructors to communicate with English-speaking deaf students. She went to school for three years to get her certificate. According to Joan, learning ASL was not that difficult, but learning to be an excellent interpreter could take a lifetime.

Three years after enrolling at Pierce College, Joan graduated as a Certified ASL Interpreter. Plenty of job opportunities were waiting for her. She likes the college environment, so she applied for a job at Newton Community College, a school with 28,000 students. There are 22 hearing-impaired students at NCC. Joan has worked with most of them.

They are very friendly with her. Often they invite her to have a cup of coffee after class. They talk about school and about what they hope to do after graduation. Sometimes the women talk about personal things, especially about how hard it is to find "Mr. Right." Joan agrees with them, saying she herself has given up on finding him. They also talk about their favorite movies, books, and music. Even deaf people can "hear" music. Many are good dancers.

Joan is one of the four interpreters on campus. Two are full-time; Joan works part-time. She accompanies a deaf student to class. The student sits in the front row. Joan usually sits near the teacher, facing the student. She signs as the teacher talks. If the class is less than 90 minutes long, there is only one interpreter per student. If the class is longer, there are two interpreters per student. They alternate; one interpreter will sign for 20 minutes, and then the other will.

Joan will go back to school soon. She wants to become a Certified French Sign Language Interpreter. She already speaks French fluently; her mom taught it to her. Her mom also taught Joan that American men are hopeless. She frequently told Joan that only a French man knows how to make a woman feel like a woman. Joan idolizes her mom, and takes her advice to heart. It will take Joan about three more years to get certified.

What then? Then she will leave California, move to Paris, find a romantic French boyfriend, and live happily ever after. That's her plan.

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