When the percussion group went on stage to play, the event host asked the students each to pick up and hold an inflated balloon. Smiles broke out on the faces of the youth when the drummers began to play and they felt the vibrations of the drum beats between their hands.
Crewmembers performed a silent drama and the onboard sign language club signed interpretations for two songs. Student Chantal Campbell was inspired when she saw a young girl who lives with her family on the ship signing on stage with the adult crewmembers. An interpreter reminded Chantal of her response when she was interacting with crewmembers after the event. “I remember you told me that seeing the little girl signing, that it really touched you; it made you emotional.” “That is a big thing for a deaf person to see!” signed Chantal back.
Chantal told crewmembers that she really appreciated the fact that every part of the morning was planned with the abilities of deaf people in mind. “I really liked how all of you thought about those who are deaf and how we were able to feel the music through the balloon,” signed Chantal. “The dance, the drumming, and the singing and signing – it was beautiful. Everything that I saw really touched my heart.”
Andy Svoboda has been working with deaf students in schools across Jamaica for the last five years and helped as an interpreter during the event. “Do these students often get to come to events like this that are designed specifically for them?” asked Kayla Gibson (USA).
“Oh, this was quite unique,” said Andy, explaining that a social stigma in Jamaica surrounding deafness means deaf people are often marginalised and have limited access to jobs and education. “The kids today loved it. They were very tuned in; this was an amazing experience for them.”
Published: Tuesday, 06 June 2017
Credit: Rebecca Gaasrud