ASL and Its Benefits

An interview with the esteemed President and Vice President of the ASL Club.

ASL and Its Benefits

Updated: April 23, 2023

April 03, 2023

Interview by Alexander Fernandez.

American Sign Language was invented by Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet in the 1800s, at a time when he wanted to help his neighbor’s deaf daughter. The American Sign Language Club is run by Ms. Denisse Duran. American Sign Language is a beautiful and underrated language, and so we got together with two members of the American Sign Language Club, Jaden Tench, and Natali Sulakvelidze, and interviewed them on the benefits of American Sign Language (ASL).

“How long have you been in ASL Club?”

Natali: Two years.

Jaden: Two years.

“What is your role in ASL Club?”

Natali: I am the president and Jaden is the Vice president.

“What is your favorite part of ASL Club?”

Natali: The community, for sure, because I feel like the club itself is not only about learning American Sign Language, but it’s also about the people; it brings together people who actually want to be a part of a new community, and who actually want to learn about a new language. It's people who are just awesome and wholesome, and I don’t know, like the best people ever. Even last year, the community was great. Basically, people who are actually willing to do the kindness of being there for people in any shape or form. That’s the reason why this club exists; we want to understand people that can communicate with us through language, and that language is ASL.

Jaden: Definitely interacting with everyone and seeing how we all take time to learn it because everyone has different ways of how they interpret the signs or how they sign it and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some people pick it up faster than others, some people will be a little slower, some people have different wrist movements, different hand movements. It’s interesting to see how other people and maybe how I can incorporate that in my own sign. I don’t know everything about sign obviously and seeing how other people do it can help me understand how to sign it myself. So like the interaction instead of just practicing on my own is helpful most times.

Natali: For what she [Jaden] said, it’s such a big thing because I feel like we’re getting to know people in a very private way if you know what I’m saying. When people are learning something that takes so much effort and the only thing that you can think about is what you’re learning because it takes so much effort to say it correctly. You really see people when they’re being fully themselves trying to figure out what’s going on and it’s fun to watch that. It takes a lot of practice for me to figure out what I’m doing and I go to Jaden and say “Okay how do you sign it?” and it’s like, a whole thing of us figuring it out together. That’s why I like it. Regular language, when you learn it, it’s like that [makes a hand gesture indicating that other languages are straightforward].

“How do you think teaching ASL can benefit others?”

Natali: First of all, we are learning a new language, it’s new skills; usually learning a language is a hard thing and it takes a lot of effort, a lot of time. But it is an amazing thing because not only are you learning a new skill but you are also opening your doors to a totally new world, totally new types of people who are different from you and have a chance to grow as you meet more different people than you, you have the chance to grow as a person and an as an individual. In terms of ASL itself, it is something that’s very limited in a way. Not a lot of people know it. It is very hard; I can’t even compare it to learning an actual language because of how hard it is. But, that amount of effort makes you very persistent, makes you more punctual, makes you more focused because you have to focus on what you’re doing at that very moment and not think about anything else. It also helps you learn more about the deaf community, be a part of it, meet new people which is just amazing.

Jaden: For me, ASL, like Natali said, is not something that a lot of people know how to do, it’s a very versatile skill and I think a lot more people need to learn it because you never know who you’ll come upon that does use it and you want to connect with them and then you might not be able to because you don’t know ASL. It’s something that helps you understand other people better on another level than maybe you already know them. Like Natali said, learning a new language with someone else to connect with them, it’s not much different. There is a lot more work that goes into it, with your hands and some symbols mean the same thing like the technicality of it. But it’s something worth knowing and I think that’s why I stay because I really want to keep learning it and remember it so I can use it in the future.

“Is there anything else you would like to share about the club?”

Jaden: Attending ASL Club and learning the skill will get you community service hours if anyone would like to come and learn. Just showing up for community service hours will not get you anything. Actually come and participate, and learn, and try, and put effort in. Not to say that people who don’t speak with their hands aren’t good at ASL, but I find that people that speak with their hands pick it up better and it flows better. It’s easier for them to do, so if you already talk with your hands it could be a good skill to pick up.

Natali: Every meeting is one hour of community service. It's a way for you to learn a new skill but also gain something that is required in our school in order to graduate, so I think that’s pretty nice.

The American Sign Language club meets weekly on Tuesdays after period 9, in room 210.