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Deaf community shines at ASL Ball

Alexis Schlesinger / THE GATEPOST

By Jack McLaughlin

Arts & Features Editor

The ASL Ball, which took place on the night of Nov. 17, was a successful event that brought the Framingham State community together while also having the opportunity to bring a shining light to the Deaf community.

The event, which was put together by the ASL Club, was the first of its kind. This type of event is common at other colleges, including Boston University.

Bruce Bucci, an ASL Professor and the advisor for the ASL Club, helped organize an event similar to this for BU in the past. He explained that the past event was a success, and talked about how it was designed with the intent of encouraging people to use American Sign Language to communicate.

“The music was pumping - to the point where you can really feel it and so it kind of forced everyone to communicate in sign language. Because, you know, verbal communication was too hard with how loud it was,” he said.

It was from this past experience that inspired him to bring the idea to FSU, he said.

ASL Club treasurer Hunter Younie talked about the process of putting the event together, a lot of which took place in their meetings.

In these meetings, Younie said “This is where people would share ideas for guests and collaboration ideas.”

During the meeting that took place before the event, Younie said that they “had everyone make signs and paper flowers, and it was a great time.”

Planning for the event was not without difficulty, he said.

“There are always communications issues with bigger events like this, but nothing we couldn’t handle.”

One of the trickier challenges the club faced was finding a DJ to host the event, he added. This was until Bucci was able to contact Deaf DJ Kazeem, a famous Deaf DJ that Younie described as “a pleasure to work with.”

Bucci reflected on his experience with Kazeem at the event, citing his inclusion as one of the event’s many highlights.

“He really knew how to move people. And, you know, there’s a lot of people who can’t get that to happen,” he said.

“He just did something that no one else could do.”

Younie also recollected a fond memory with Kazeem from the night. He had noticed ASL Club secretary Jessenia Kolaco singing along to a song he was performing and responded to this by bringing her on stage and she began interpreting the song in sign language.

“She went into full interpreter mode, and it was amazing to see - it was amazing!” Younie said.

The event was a big success for the club Younie said and described it as “packed” and that “Everyone was dancing, even the professors who came, which was very fun to see.”

Bucci described the event as “beautifully done,” and added it “seemed like everyone had a good time.

“All I saw was smiling faces, people using sign language. … It was a beautiful evening.”

The success of the event has sparked interest in making the ASL Ball an annual occurrence, according to Younie. He explained that while nothing is official, it’s something that has been discussed.

Although he is graduating this year, he said “if it were to happen again, I would definitely come.”

Bucci has also expressed interest in making the ASL Ball a yearly event, saying “I think it would be a great annual event for sure.”

With this event already wrapped up, ASL Club is already planning its next big event - DeaFSU, according to Younie.

DeaFSU is planning to bring Deaf businesses and programs to the school for the community to be more aware of, he added.

Younie described this event as a great opportunity to become more involved with the Deaf community, using his own experience at the last DeaFSU as an example.

At last year’s DeaFSU event, Younie said he had the opportunity to meet people from the Learning Center for the Deaf, and was able to make an important networking connection with them because of that.

“I think that [it] is a very important [event] to have, because at the first DeaFSU, I chatted with people at that table and was able to get their card and eventually get a job working there over the summer - which was an amazing experience,” he said.

The event was originally intended to take place last semester, but did not, with Younie citing “issues with the planning process.”

Bucci said he is also looking forward to the upcoming DeaFSU, sharing a similar sentiment to Younie on the importance of making strong connections at the event.

When talking about the last DeaFSU, Bucci said “There were 400 people that came to do community services. And it was a really good opportunity for the students to get involved with the Deaf people who are around the whole New England area.”

Events like the ASL Ball and DeaFSU help bring people together casually and allow for valuable interactions with the Deaf community, Bucci and Younie said.

Younie talked about the importance of being able to interact with the Deaf community at these types of events, and said “our program encourages ASL students to interact with the Deaf community and have as many opportunities for that as possible outside of the classroom.”

Bucci said that events like the ASL Ball help give important exposure to Deaf culture.

“There’s a lot of people that think that Deaf people don’t do music. But, really, it’s just that the ASL Ball makes it accessible for them,” he said.

He said he hopes that people who went to the ball come out of it with a stronger appreciation of equality and communication.

“Regardless of how loud the music is, ASL is such a good convention to use and it’s good for everybody to use as well,” he said.

Younie hopes attendees of the event take away the fact that the Deaf community is able to have fun with events such as this.

“Deaf people can have fun - they do listen to music and dance,” he said.



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