Transcript Provided Below:
Title: “My Personal Experience.”
By Stephanie Weiss
**American Sign Language is used throughout the video.
[Narrative Shot with Stephanie – Brown-hair down to arm, white female with black t-shirt stands. Background reveals shelves in a library with colorful books on them.]
Stephanie “Home Exposure. All deaf and hard-of-hearing people are raised and taught differently, especially when it comes to language. Also, everyone has various background experience. Many grow up and have no idea what ASL is. You learn from whatever your parents teach you, as they become your role models and try to support you anyway you can to make you feel like you’re one of them, or better yet – normal. When I watch tv shows, there are no captions on. When I sit at the family table, everyone talks across the table, while I just sit there quietly and eat my meal. Frustration and struggling happen. My parents would yell at me furiously, and I would be in terrified. I would say to myself, “What did I do wrong?” and become depressed. I grow up thinking that I’m the only deaf person in this world. I feel like something is missing. I get these hearing aids, and I put them on. I hear everything, and I start to wonder why other people don’t have these hearing aids. It becomes super annoying, and my self-esteem becomes low. I always worried about what people thought of me. This is my life story.
[scene: Stephanie with black t-shirt and blue jean shorts sitting down in a classroom at a small round table for children with wooden toys on it.]
Stephanie: ”Kindergarten. I played a game called telephone line. All students get in a circle, and the teacher whispers sentence a student’s ear; when it’s your turn, you must hear what the student next to you is saying and pass it on. The goal was to make sure the students’ sentence matched the teacher’s sentence. As the first student went and already passed it on to a few students, it was soon to be my turn. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and think it was fun, while I disagreed. When it was my turn, I was already sweating, pressured, and nervous. I asked the student to repeat themselves twice. Do you wanna know the truth? I still didn’t understand and had no idea what the student said. I was too embarrass to repeat myself, and so I made-up a sentence. After all the students completed whispering the sentence, the last student said the sentence and it was totally random; it didn’t match the teacher’s sentence and everyone laughed. I laughed with them, but felt completely sad and embarrassed on the inside. Why does this happen to me?”
[Stephanie holds up three wooden blocks with letters WHY]
[scene: Stephanie with black t-shirt standing in front of a bamboo wooden wall]
Stephanie: ”Middle School. I don’t have any friends. Students mocked me and ask what’s in my ears. [Film changes from color to black and white] I covered my ears because I don’t want them to see me; I get sucked into this dark place. [Film changes from black and white back to color] I feel weak, like I want to breakdown and I’m overwhelmed. I want to be like everyone else. The only people you depend on is your family because they accept you for who you are, even though you know you still feel disconnected to them. Do I accept myself? No. Do I hate myself? Yes. [Film changes from color to black and white then back to color] I cry, and I express rage and emotion. I ask God, ‘Why? Why did this happen to me?’ I feel different. I am truly and deeply heartbroken. I become isolated.”
[scene: Stephanie with black t-shirt is standing in a gym with basketball court.]
Stephanie: ”High School. Traumatic. Wanna be popular? Gotta be arrogant, judge and label everyone. There were cliques. My clique? only myself. Everyone was superior, while I was inferior. I was so mad inside. I was involved and focused on my academics and sports. How did I express my rage? I expressed it by consistently writing and playing. On the first day of high school, I received my schedule and it said “ASL.” I was like whatever and was not really interested. Anyways, I went into the classroom all pissed off. I didn’t want to be there. I wanted to take Spanish like the popular people, but that didn’t happen. [Film changes from color to black and white] My teacher would deeply stare at me and I held in all the patience I could. [Film changes from black and white back to color] I didn’t want people to know that I was deaf. It was just so embarrassing and I just wanted to hide. [Film changes from color to black and white and back to color while signing “hide”] Anyways, as time progressed throughout my 4 years of high school, my ASL perspective changed! I fell in love with this language and became natural/fluent. I was doubting myself ever since I took this language class. Finally, I accepted my Deaf identity, which grew tremendously and I’ve proudly accepted it. I started becoming confident and not caring what other people think. They should worry about themselves, right? I learned about Gallaudet; I never thought it would be the place for me and was very hesitant on attending the school in the future. During my senior year, two big accomplishments happened: I become a lead in a ASL play and got awarded Student-Athlete of the Year. [Stephanie throws a basketball and it goes in the hoop without touching the rim—she smiles and cheers] My self-esteem grew.
[Stephanie makes a gesture showing she smiles]
[scene: Stephanie with black t-shirt is standing outside in front of Gallaudet University’s Chapel Hall.]
Stephanie: ”College. Where did I decide to go? Here, at Gallaudet University. PAH! I felt connected and everyone understood each other. We were united and still are one big family, who all share the same experiences. All you have to do is consistently believe in yourself. Without ASL, I would never know who or what I represent; ASL truly changed my life. I feel blessed!