Monday, June 27, 2011

Breakfast on Farm

I can’t believe it took me more than a week to write about a small trip to a farm event on 6/18/2011 to St. Johns, Michigan; I have been busy and lazy since that event.
I have always wondered how farmers processed food and milk. Last Saturday, I received the chance to experience it. My friend, Amanda Bogart, invited me to the breakfast on farm event. I was super excited about it, because I have never been to a farm since coming in Michigan.

When I arrived at the farm at St. Johns, I met with a group of singers and their wonderful interpreter Molly Mckee. We had a wonderful, fresh farm made breakfast. This free breakfast consisted of pancakes, strawberries, coffee, and a bottle of milk. Doesn't that sound yummy!?

After breakfast, we had the opportunity to take a tour of the farm. I was surprised upon seeing the machines used for farming. I saw all kinds of modern farming machines such as harvesters, balers, and tractors. Back in my country, Somalia, most people would farm without the use of machines. In fact, there are not any farm tractors there. Sometimes, when I would visit my Aunt’s farm, I would see her harvesting, planting, picking up seeds, and milking cows with her hands all day.  But here, I saw all kind of farming tractors.

My inner child appeared as I started looking at all the different farming items. I even asked my friend Amanda to take pictures of me.  I learned that Farmers use a Machine to milk cows and I tried to see how the machine operated, as you can see in the picture below.
Farmers Milking Cows with Machine

me trying to see how the the Machine milk Cows

Max, Amanda's son likes feeding calf

Farmers in Michigan generate about 5.6 billion dollars a year; that is a great economic contribution. I always thought that Michigan’s economy only depended on the Auto industry, but I guess farmers also contributes to Michigan economy. Most of us don’t have any idea on the impact farms have on us. They process the food we consume, and we tend to take that for granted. We may have money to buy food, however, money is just paper. But the food and the milk that farmers produce are necessary for us to live. Without having hard working farmers, we would not be able to get the food and the milk we need to survive.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sign Language is not just Deaf Language

I have been wondering how some people can be so uneducated about sign language. I have noticed people making fun of me or even other people who are conversing in sign language. Some of them think that sign language is deaf language and is only used as communication between deaf individuals and experienced hearing people who have studied it. But the truth is, everyone uses sign language to communicate, whether they are deaf or hearing.

When hearing people are socializing, they tend to use sign language to support what they are saying without even knowing they are doing it. See for yourself; try to notice the gestures you use upon communicating with friends and family. Can you talk and make whatever you are trying to say meaningful without moving your hands?  Can you keep the attention of the person you are talking to without using your hands? Absolutely not! You must use your hands to help your story make sense and to hold your audiences’ attention. It is also good to help explain the intensity of your story. Without using your hands, a person would not be able to grasp your sense of passion or strength, and your speech would be pointless. That is  because spoken language depends on sign language.

Sign language is the easiest language in which people can communicate. Suppose you met someone who didn’t speak the same language as yours. What would you do? How are you going to communicate? It’s a no brainer; you would use a form of sign language to communicate with them. The signs that you are going to use might not be formal signs, but it is sign language. You will have to try as much as you can to establish signs that both you and the other person can understand. I bet the both of you wouldn’t know or think that you are using sign language. It is surprising to me that a lot of people don’t notice that. I have friends who don’t speak English, but they communicate with others who speak English using their hands to talk and vice-verse. However, when I want to communicate with some of them and I use the formal sign language, I am made fun of. Why is that? Oh wait I know, it is the fact that I am deaf.

Other ways sign language is known as an easy way to communicate with people is through sports and babies. For example, in baseball games referees use sign language to show when a player is safe or out. Also, if you are scuba diving and submersed in water, you would use some sort of sign language to communicate with your partner. Basically, if your mouth is occupied with a breathing device or is full of food and you need to say something, you would use sign language to point them in the direction you want them to go or to indicate to “hold on a second” and that you would explain the concept later. In addition, babies can learn gestures much faster than speech. Babies tend to pick up on signs that parents unintentionally teach them; most of the time meaning “more” or “food.”   Baby sign language teach babies signs to communicate with  their parents before they even learn spoken language. See how easy it is? Now would those people who think sign language is a minority language admit how important sign language actually is?

There is a large chance that sign language was the first language humans used to communicate with each other when life just began to exist in the world. It is very unlikely and impossible for humans to instantly have a developed spoken language as soon as they were born. To develop a formal language that makes sense and has a recorded proper vocabulary would take a long time.  Prehistoric humans must have used some kind of communication like body gesture; and that would be considered sign language. Hearing people who make fun of deaf people when they are using sign language should understand that they themselves use sign language every day. There is no difference between formal sign language and spoken language.  It is like any other languages that help humans to communicate and understand each other.

I think sign language should be made an offered subject in schools so that children and teenagers have the option to learn and understand it. That way, there would be fewer misconceptions about it. The sign language that deaf people use to communicate it is just like the language hearing people use. There are so many false impressions about sign language because there are exists a large hearing community who believes that sign language is a minority language and therefore, it is not important or not good enough. If sign language is not important and is a minority language, then hearing people should not be allowed to use their hands or gesture while they are talking.

Deaf Students In College

You sit in a classroom full of students, rolling your eyes looking ubiquitously. You are like a black sheep, different from all of the other students in the class. You are the only one that cannot understand what is going on. Who are you? This is the life of a deaf student and what deaf students experience in college. They face many struggles attending colleges. Most people have a little understanding of what it really is like being deaf while also attending a hearing school. There are many barriers that deaf students face in college.
What would it be like for you to not have the ability to enroll in any class that you want to take? This is what deaf students experience during college enrollment. Deaf students cannot enroll in any class they want to unless they first go to the Office of Disability Services  in order to get approved for accommodations. If the student decides to change their mind and adjust their schedule they would have to go to the Office of Disability Services again. Unfortunately, the new altered schedule may not get approved. The office might tell the deaf student that they do not have interpreters available for the new student’s schedule. This is one of the biggest setbacks I have experienced while going to college; I do not have the ability to register for classes and change my schedule when I want to. For example, last semester the Office of Disability Services  informed me that I have to change my schedule, because they could not find a captioner to accommodate me according to my course plan. It was the last few days before the semester started, so I was terribly worried about how I could change my schedule. What would have happened if the courses I wanted and was able to take were completely full?  probably i would have missed my classes, or I would have to had to changed my work schedules which would not have been possible. This is something that we-deaf students, have to deal with in college.
Although deaf students now get the accommodations they need for classes, they have also to face difficulties in the learning environment. As a deaf student myself, it is very challenging to understand the lecture that the teacher is giving. Even with a sign language interpreter, it is still difficult to learn the course material. You have to focus on both the teacher and interpreter. If only we could have two brains and four eyes to have the ability to see both people. Classroom learning is exceptionally complex when it comes to note taking. It is nearly impossible for a deaf student to take notes that the teacher writes on the board while also paying attention to what the sign language interpreter is signing. if they want to take notes they would have to miss what the teacher explaining. Not all the information that the average hearing student receives would be received by the deaf student, even with an interpreter. In addition, deaf students also have difficulties trying to understand when there are conversations and student/teacher discussions in the class. Deaf students are always left behind because they are unable to fully participate and communicate using speech. Despite these obscurities, deaf students continue their studies while trying to be like the average college student.
One simple idea that many hearing students take for granted is socializing and communication. Socializing is something that deaf college students lack. Usually the deaf student depends on socializing through sign language clubs that occasionally meet on campus. If there are no clubs then deaf students are left without access to the socializing world, and can sadly become depressed and have the feeling of being left out. Unlike hearing students, deaf students face hard times communicating with their classmates and teachers.For example I took three classes last semester. There were almost  one hundred students in those classes, and I made no friends from those classes.  It is normal for the typical deaf students to experience difficulties getting to know their classmates and making friends. It is surprising that hearing students in college think that they cannot become friends with the deaf students. Usually it is because they don’t know sign language and, therefore, they think that they are not able to talk to the deaf. This is not true. Communicating with deaf students does not require the knowledge of sign language. As long as you want to get to know someone, it should not matter whether or not you know sign language. Hearing and deaf students can always communicate by writing to each other using pen and paper or by typing to each other on a computer.
Hearing people have an advantage because they can learn sign language. Even if they go to deaf colleges like Gallaudet University or National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), hearing students do not struggle as much as deaf students do, because they can always learn the language and have the best of both worlds. Deaf students cannot have the best of both worlds because they cannot learn to hear or listen. So that is why there are interpreters for the deaf to help deaf to communicate with the hearing world.
Students should understand that talking to or communicating with a deaf person does not require knowing sign language. Students and teachers need to understand that deaf students are not that different from other students. There is no telling the difference between being deaf and hearing except that the deaf person is unable to talk or hear. The deaf students are not less intelligent than hearing students. The deaf student is much more patient than what most people think. Remember how you would feel if you had to deal with all of those stresses?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Injustice Lay off

There is so much injustice in this world.  This  morning, I witnessed my coworkers being laid off  and heart broken. I have seen people who were  laid off from their jobs. However, It is first time it happened to people I work with. I do understand that companies sometimes suffer economic downturn which forces them to lay off employees. However, I think there should be a justice to whom to lay off.

I work for a company that make garments.They started  laying off people, because they could not get enough contracts. Last night, they had  barbecue for us. One of the company high profile persons came and told us that there will not be a lot of lay off in 3rd shift which I work in. They also told us there will be less lay off in my department. However, they started giving a lay off notice to some of our best team members one hour before their shift was about to end.

I was not surprised that they were laying off people. However, I was shocked that they told people only one hour before their shift ended that they were laid off. As I saw my wonderful coworkers who were hard working  people turned their faces down,I felt sad.  The people who were laid off  were hard workers. Yet, lazy ones were allowed to keep their jobs.   One of my team members ,Who never misses work. Who is focused on his job and backs up for other people were laid off. He was in probation and was trying to show that he finally wanted to turn over his life in a right way. He had 5 children whom he had to support. I feel like he deserved to be given a shot to change his life. Other woman who was most hard working individual were laid off. She is a single mother of 3 children, and she commute driving to work more than two hours everyday. She used to do a job that was supposed to do like 2 or 3 people. She is one of those people who will make u feel inspired when you see their hard work and how much life difficulties they have. She had multiple disabilities. I feel really it is a grieve mistake for laying off someone like her.

This world of capitalist is unfair. Companies hire you when they need you and lay you off when you need your job.  They care only profit, but not about hard workers and the right of employees. They could need these hard workers someday. I believe it would have been less stressful if they gave employees notice before they laid off.