Ninety-five percent of CU’s Deaf Studies students are distance learners, some of whom are international students. This program offers students a chance to work within their communities while studying to earn their degree in Deaf Studies, which reduces “brain drain” and helps communities grow/thrive. This last week, CU’s Deaf Studies department received some great news about our dual-enrolled students (Sincere Shilaluka and Esther Kazimbaya). They are studying at CU and the Central African Baptist University (CABU) in Zambia.
When Sincere arrived at CABU four years ago, she was quiet and refused to do any public speaking. However, on Saturday, February 19th, 2022, Sincere, the youngest in her class at CABU and Valedictorian, gave a heartfelt 5 min commencement speech to a room full of 300 people. Meanwhile, Esther worked alongside one of the best interpreters in her community, providing access during the graduation ceremony to the Deaf attendees to support the CABU students. Cherith Hunt, the CABU’s Director of Sign Language and Deaf Studies, reports, “It was quickly evident that Esther is now in a different league.”
It is essential to understand that Zambia uses a different sign system from North America, so Esther and Sincere have learned American Sign Language while studying here at CU. Knowing more than one signed language has not hindered their abilities to communicate effectively and eloquently in their home communities. In fact, it has enhanced it, as these ladies have become confident signers and are continuing to become skilled interpreters. At the same time, they navigate diverse cultural and communication experiences.
CU’s Deaf Studies – Interpreter program has produced significant and tangible changes in Sincere and Esther’s signing abilities in the last six months. Both ladies can now interpret rather than simply transliterate. Hunt went on to say, “Thank you [CU-Deaf Studies program] for helping us get the qualifications that would otherwise be impossible in Zambia….”
We are excited to see what Esther and Sincere will do in their community and beyond. We have high hopes for all our students in the Deaf Studies program. Regardless of whether they go into interpreting or advocacy –may they make remarkable and significant differences in the lives of the people they serve.