Grateful to start this year with the opportunity to learn another language: sign language. A few years ago, I watched a video of Jenny, one of Couchsurfing (https://www.couchsurfing.com/) members, who have traveled around to the world and learned various sign languages along the way (search on YouTube: ‘Couchsurfing through a silent world’). She herself is deaf and of course traveling solo is not as easy as for common travelers (I’ve also shared about her video in this post).
At that time, I’ve just noticed too that every country has different sign language. And I talked to myself, “it shouldn’t be surprising!”. Language is no other than consensus of a group of people, but then people spread all over the world. Like oral/spoken language, it’s almost impossible to have only one single sign language.
Actually, one of my dear family members is also deaf. I learned a bit of alphabetic and vocabs in sign language but that’s all. I get used to communicate with deaf person mostly through lip reading instead of sign language. Until last year, in one of my flights I watched a short movie titled ‘The Silent Child’ (apparently, this movie has won an Oscar in 2017 as Best Short Film). It hit me hard because the 20-minute story truly reflects how the society and even the closest family are sometimes too ignorant to try to communicate and understand those who are special.
By God’s will, a couple of months after watching the movie, there was a new batch of sign language class in town. I joined without any hesitation. Again, I was astonished to know that even only in Indonesia, we got a lot of variation of sign languages. Jogja deaf community ‘speaks’ somewhat differently with those who are in Jakarta and other regions, for instance. MashAllah.
Fikri Muhandis, one of ‘deaf friend’ (teman tuli) from Jogja whose Youtube page I frequently visit in order to review the lessons in my sign language class.
I have no particular goals by learning it except to allow myself immerse in this diverse community. We talk a lot about inclusion and I guess this is just a small step.