THE WOODS MAGAZINE SUMMER | 2013
Dr. Barbara Garrett
director of the American Sign Language
and interpreting program at William Woods,
organized the trip for WWU students.
The tour was called ‘In the Footsteps
of T.H. Gallaudet,’ and they traveled the
same route as he did in the early 1800s—
going to London, then Paris, and then we
added on Rome because, well, you just
have to go to Rome!”
According to Garrett, the students “visited
Deaf people in each country so, in all, they
managed seven languages—English, ASL,
British Sign Language (nothing like ASL),
French, French Sign Language, Italian, and
Italian Sign Language.”
She added, “They even met French college
students preparing to become French/French
Sign Language interpreters. Our students
know English and ASL, and these students
knew French and French Sign Language so
they communicated in signs with a lot of
gestures working to communicate.”
toured with a group of Deaf
community members and students from
other interpreting programs. The entire
group traveled through Europe together,
with the aid of a signing tour guide.
I had never been out of the country before
the trip,” said Huesemann. “I thought it would
be awesome to go with a Deaf tour company
and learn about the different countries,
all in ASL.”
Although Garrett planned the trip,
she was unable to attend.
American Sign Language instructor at
WWU, accompanied the students.
Their adventure began March 8, when the
group departed for England. After a 10-plus-
hour flight, the group arrived in London.
While there, they toured the London Eye,
Big Ben, Tower Bridge, the Royal Armory,
Westminster Abbey, and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
They also visited Piccadilly Circus.
From the first day on, it was go, go, go,”
said Hofer. “We slept hard every night.”
In Paris they journeyed to the Eiffel Tower,
the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Catacombs,
and Loch Bridge. They also visited the Deaf
School in Paris where Laurent Clerc was
teaching when Gallaudet made his trip to
Europe. Clerc and Gallaudet later started the
first School for the Deaf in the United States
in 1817 in Hartford, Conn.
After three days in Paris, the group
traveled to its final European destination,
Rome. There, the weary travelers enjoyed a
somewhat lighter itinerary, but managed to
visit the Vatican, the Colosseum, the Roman
Ruins, the Spanish Steps, and Trevi Fountain.
The group also experienced a part of
history that most people were watching
on television. While at the Vatican, they
attended the first Mass given by the newly
Huesemann especially liked Rome. “I
really enjoyed seeing the Catacombs in Paris,
but Rome was my favorite city,” she said. “I
would love to go back there at some point.”
While in Europe, Ward observed dramatic
progress in her students. “WWU students
were exposed 24/7 for nine days,” Ward, who
is Deaf, explained in an email. “I noticed a
drastic improvement from day one on the trip
to day nine, from my students. Not only did
their signing improve, but they also seemed
to have learned a lot from exposure to Deaf
culture/people in Europe.”
Garrett agreed, “The results of this trip and
these experiences caused their language skills
to increase exponentially. It was amazing.”
Hofer said it was “good to immerse yourself
in a language.” She explained that the trip
was “for the most part, signing for nine
Huesemann appreciated the chance to
experience signing in another language.
Many people think that sign language is
the same everywhere, but that's not the case,”
she said. “It was an awesome experience to
see a native signer of another language. I
have never seen that in person.”
For Ward, the most memorable moment
happened in a pub in Paris.
We went to a pub in Paris, where French
Deaf people and Language Sign French (LSF)
students who learn French Sign Language go.
We managed to communicate. I met a
Deaf instructor like me. We watched our
students communicate back and forth.”
At one point, there was ASL, French Sign
Language and Italian Sign Language, as
well as English, French and Italian spoken
languages all at one table,” Huesemann said.
It was one of the most unique experiences I
have ever had.”
The results of this trip and
these experiences caused
their language skills to
Opposite page (from left): Alison Heifner, Colleen Hofer,
Shauna Ward, Sam Huesemann, and Chelsee Watson
gather in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Left: Sam Huesemann, Alison Heifner, Chelsee Watson
and Colleen Hofer gather with others in the London Eye,
a giant ferris wheel on the banks of the Thames River.