I recall my first New Zealand Sign Language class.
Myself and my friends were excited to be learning something new.
Penny our tutor was late.
And, when she arrived she was deaf.
We expected an interpreter to be following close behind her, but there was only Penny.
We were all shocked because we hadn’t been told it was a total immersion class.
Some of our class threatened to drop out complaining to each other, that they wouldn’t be able to understand, nor communicate with Penny.
And, admittedly at first it was difficult to understand Penny, and to communicate with her.
Fast forward ten weeks and our class (all the original members, no one had dropped out) were at the local Deaf Club socialising and practicing sign language.
The music was so loud that it didn’t matter if you were tempted to talk because you wouldn’t be heard anyway.
Although our class were all beginners, by now we had learnt enough to hold basic conversations with other guests.
What initially started as a huge obstacle to communicating, ended up being an exhilarating experience.
That night one of my class mates who had initially struggled to understand Penny was told off by her, for signing rude jokes.