STC hosts free community American Sign Language classes in Weslaco
The South Texas College Interpreter Training Program has partnered with the Mayor Joe V. Sanchez Public Library in Weslaco to offer six weeks of free American Sign Language (ASL) community classes. The classes are held every Friday from 5:30 – 7 p.m. at the library’s Braught Memorial Theater, 525 S. Kansas Ave.
The people in the theater simultaneously shook their hands and wiggled their fingers to warm up for their newest language lesson.
The South Texas College Interpreter Training Program has partnered with the Mayor Joe V. Sanchez Public Library in Weslaco to offer six weeks of free American Sign Language (ASL) community classes. The classes are held every Friday from 5:30 – 7 p.m. at the library’s Braught Memorial Theater.
Standing on the theater’s stage at a recent class, STC student Kevin Delgadillo introduced the Interpreter Training intern team before beginning a lesson on ASL and deaf etiquette.
“We’re very excited to see you here, especially all the new faces,” Delgadillo said to the crowd. “This is something we really enjoy doing, and don’t worry if this is your first time. We’re going to start with a quick review of our ABCs and numbers. Let’s warm up.”
The STC interpreter interns teach basic American Sign Language (ASL) vocabulary, phrases and cultural information at each session to help the public communicate better with the deaf community. The sessions will conclude Friday, March 10.
Alondra Garcia, an STC student pursuing an Associate of Applied Science in Sign Language Interpreter Specialization, is one of several interns assisting with the Weslaco classes. Garcia said learning another language is beneficial in multiple ways, and enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience with the community.
“We have a large deaf community in the Rio Grande Valley,” Garcia said. “I think if people learn more about sign language, the deaf community will be able to feel more at ease and feel like, ‘Look, they’re welcoming us and accepting our culture.’”
The ASL and Interpreting Studies Program at STC is designed to provide students with the opportunity to develop their practical communication skills and cross-cultural understanding to provide them with the foundation required for careers in languages and cultural studies.
Jolynda Arriaga, a counselor with the STC Mid-Valley Counseling and Student Accessibility Services department, said she’s proud to see the students interacting with community members.
This type of outreach is very important because many times a lot of people don't have the knowledge on how to communicate with the deaf population. I've worked with students with disabilities for years so I see how important it is that people become educated about the struggles that these individuals go through.
“This type of outreach is very important because many times a lot of people don't have the knowledge on how to communicate with the deaf population,” Arriaga said. “I've worked with students with disabilities for years so I see how important it is that people become educated about the struggles that these individuals go through.”
Arriaga said she has always carried a personal interest in learning sign language, as well.
“My career is in social work, and so that’s in the helping profession,” she said. “Now working for STC I see, from the inside, the impact knowing sign language has. I’m actually looking into taking classes because I work very closely with our top specialist that is certified to interpret, Nora Zavala. Working with her has inspired me.”
Rumelda Hales, of Edinburg, said she was interested in participating in the class since she first heard about the program from the library. Hales said she has struggled to communicate well when she has encountered deaf people in the community. Although she has used a pen and paper in the past, she hoped to expand her ability.
“I guess it all started when I was in Girl Scouts and one of my classmates had a relative who was deaf,” Hales said. “It’s a form of communication and ever since then I’ve been wanting to learn more. I think it’s great they’re offering these classes because there’s a need, really.”
Ashley Guerrero of Weslaco said this is the second set of community sign language classes she has taken with STC. She was joined by Frank Agueros of Weslaco, whose family member is hard of hearing.
“Frank’s dad was really hard of hearing so when I saw the sign language classes being offered I decided to come and learn,” Guerrero said. “To find out they’re offering them right here in Weslaco is really nice.”
The free classes are open to the public and no registration is needed. For more information, call the library at 956-968-4533 and ask for the Reference Department. The library is located at 525 S. Kansas Ave. in Weslaco.
To learn more about the STC’s American Sign Language and Interpreting Studies, visit www.southtexascollege.edu/academics/asl.