Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sign Language Interpretation student says US practicum made all the difference

By Jenn Wilson, Sign Language Interpretation

I have Deaf parents and have wanted to be a sign language interpreter ever since I learned you could have a career in this field. So, I decided to apply for the Sign Language Interpretation Program at Douglas College.

As more access is provided and barriers are broken down, there are more opportunities available to D/deaf persons - which means interpreters are in high demand. Therefore, when I graduate I hope to begin working immediately. The options are endless: I can work in a high school or post secondary, I can do freelance work and arrange my own schedule or I can accept contract work.

The program is intense, and in order to succeed you need to be dedicated. During the last semester students are sent out for three internships. For my first internship, I went to the USA. This turned out to be a great opportunity - the knowledge that I gained there is knowledge that I could not have learned by being placed in Canada. There are similarities and differences in signs are used in each country and seeing that communication is still successful is amazing. A common misconception is that Sign Language is universal - which it is not. Sign Language varies from country to country. Because of my internship in the states, I now have a greater repertoire of signs to choose from and am able to recognize and understand when some of those signs are used. This experience has also made me realize the importance of being adaptable and flexible. It was challenging for me to leave my comfort zone and be placed in an unfamiliar area with people I did not know. However, I realized that change happens often and it's important, especially in the field of Sign Language Interpreting, to be flexible and adaptable to any and all situations.

Engaging in international activities is extremely important because it offers global perspectives that enhance our education, outside of the college walls. My international experience has pushed me to expand my boundaries, make meaningful relationships, learn from and educate others, and grow and develop personally and professionally.

On May 1, Jenn received a $500 International Studies Award from the Douglas College Foundation for her practicum work in Tacoma, Washington.