By Christopher Smith
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – The Camden County College American Sign Language Club held its semiannual Sign and Switch event last week. The event was held in the west cafeteria on the Blackwood campus from 6 to 10 p.m. April 21.
“We do it twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring. It’s a place for students to come and practice their signing skills here at CCC,” states David Randolph, the co-president, about the event.
The event begins with rows of chairs facing each other as people begin to sit and sign to the person across from them. This lasts for two minutes before time runs out. A hand is raised and a flash from a phone is used as the president of the club, Kasey McMaster, walks down the center of the aisle and everyone begins to switch seats.
“The ASL club is really about learning new signs. Meeting new people. Having new friends. There’s a clear difference between ASL and English. It’s challenging for people, and it’s a good place for students to learn to translate and learn on their free time,” says McMaster through an interpreter.
The attendees range from children younger than 10 years old to middle-age adults. The room is quiet with American Sign Language being used to communicate. More than 40 people are sitting in the chairs lined up parallel to each other.
McMaster stands on a chair at the head of the aisle and starts to sign. Randolph then interprets “is anyone hungry yet” and then gestures to the pizza that has just arrived. The crowd moves to the pizza in a line and they begin to take slices, pretzels, chips and sodas.
The parallel lines of members are now disbursed around the cafeteria as they eat. Some are communicating through signing and others speaking, some groups doing a combination of both.
Another announcement is made and the participants of the meeting are told through sign and interpretation that after they are done eating they will begin the next game.
“This is one of our most successful activities in the ASL club, people really enjoy it. We have ASL students who come and meet and they can practice their signing. Some of the students are in the ASL program and some are just taking signing 1 or finger spelling,” says Vivian Rodriguez, the sign language interpreter. Rodriguez also mentions that the event counts for their required hours of practice for their classes.
For more information about the ASL club, you can contact the club at email@example.com.