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RID V conference recap

Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf Region V Conference 2012

Last week, I attended the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf Region V Conference 2012 in Honolulu, Hawaii as a participant and presenter. I had a great time learning, teaching, networking, and playing. Here’s a recap of my experiences during the conference.

Networking

The moment I walked in the door of the room for the keynote speech, I met friendly faces. I saw friends I’d known since I began learning ASL in 1989, interpreters I knew from San Diego (where I lived for many years) and Phoenix (where I live now), interpreters I met last year in at the Hawaii state conference for interpreters and the Deaf, Hearing interpreters, Deaf interpreters, interpreters I’d met at other conferences like RID Region V in Salt Lake City, NAOBI, CIT, an interpreter who brought me out to present in Las Vegas last year, etc. It was great seeing so many friendly people. I also made new friends and acquaintances at the conference who I’m sure I will meet again. This networking isn’t just beneficial for professional opportunities — it is greatly beneficial to my spirit because it gives me the feeling of solidarity and comfort with my colleagues; it reminds me why I love to do what I do and I love working with others who do the same thing. And if we can open doors to opportunities for each other, that don’t hurt either. :-)

Teaching & Learning

I put teaching and learning in the same category because I learned as I taught and I taught as I learned. It was a very interesting experience teaching workshops as a master’s degree interpreting teaching student, fresh with ideas about social constructivism. It was also interesting teaching on lesser-taught interpreting types — Deaf-Blind interpreting and oral transliteration — that I don’t have occasion to practice very often. I approached the workshops with a lot of humility, which is good for any teaching situation but especially important when you know that you are probably not the biggest expert in the room. I was aware that there were people in my Deaf-Blind interpreting workshop especially who have more practice than I do but simply didn’t present. Because of these facts, and because I am learning about teachers and students co-constructing in a learning community – and because the theme of the conference was Ohana — I began both my workshops asking people what Ohana meant to them and sharing with them what it meant to me. I asked them to consider all of us an ohana (extended family connected by ties that bind) with “uncles and aunts” who have knowledge and experience and “nieces and nephews” who know nothing and are thirsting for knowledge and experience; let us all learn from and teach each other, I said. I made it clear that I had experience in these subjects, that I had done my homework for the workshop, but that I knew I was not the sole holder of knowledge and that I was there to create a space for learning.

I felt really good about this approach and it seemed to work in the sense that many people contributed information and asked questions with enthusiasm. One Deaf-Blind woman shared with us a new way of communicating in Seattle called “pro tactile” that uses a variety of touch methods to express emotional reaction such as gripping a person’s leg if you are sitting next to them, scratching someone’s back, putting someone’s hand to your throat when you laugh, etc. This was a total surprise to me and a great contribution to our workshop. If I had taken an “I am the transmitter of knowledge” approach, I might not have been open to such a great contribution. Another approach I took was to have the more experienced interpreters who knew the “theory” of the topic get practical experience by interpreting while I was teaching the newcomers. In the Deaf-Blind interpreting workshop, quite a few people took me up on the offer; in the oral transliteration workshop, people were less experienced and simply wanted to soak up the information and have me model the skills for them, and this worked fine too. I haven’t gotten the evaluations yet, and I’m sure I didn’t please everyone — who ever does? — but I have a feeling most people benefited, and of that I feel confident.

The Deaf-Blind Members Section (DBMS) hosted a workshop immediately following mine where the same Deaf-Blind woman, Angela Theriault, and Mala Poe and CM Hall taught “Pro Tactile communication for empowerment and independence.” Above is a video I shot of Angela’s demonstration of multi-person communication.

I was inspired by Antonio Goodwin and Dale Boam’s plenary sessions.

I got to watch Patrick Fischer and Kendra Keller present on topics I was familiar with, ASL expansion and case conferencing respectively. Paula Browning’s workshop on Situational Ethics was inspiring and not what I expected. It was more about the process of looking at your personal ethics and professional ethics, bringing them in line with each other, and drafting a mission statement (or might I say a “statement of ethics”) for yourself.

The only criticism I have of workshops is they are often repetitive for veterans like me. Even when I know the theories, I go hoping I’ll have a chance to practice the skills. Unfortunately, it seems to me that most workshops are geared to people unfamiliar with the topic. It  begs the question what is a “workshop” — a topic for another blog post, I think.

Playing

I enjoyed hiking to the top of Diamondhead, walking along the beach, eating at a few different restaurants, going out to a local bar where several Deaf locals, visitors, Deaf interpreters, Hearing interpreters and significant others gathered to communicate in ASL.

I have a whole album of photos from my trip on Google+.

All-in-all, I had a great time and I’m glad I went and presented.

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