It’s difficult to imagine how refugees feel when they come into a country not always fully knowing the language, and it could be even more difficult for refugees who are deaf.
That’s why Pamela Wright, a Deaf graduate student in linguistics at CU Boulder, wanted to help. She wanted to be able to work with deaf refugees to assist in their abilities to communicate in the United States.
Wright was inspired by a Deaf man named Sushil who came to the United States from Nepal in 2008. When they first met at a Deaf event, Sushil did not know much ASL until the two started to communicate with each other regularly.
Wright has worked with eight refugees. To be able to work to the best of her ability, she learns the native language of the person she is helping in order to teach them English and ASL.
DTV News was able to get a few words from Lar Reh, one of the refugees Wright is working with.
When I moved here, everything was new to me. I did not know ASL and I gestured a lot. That’s how I communicated with my parents. I didn’t have any schooling for a year and a half. My sister attended school while I stayed home and did not learn anything. It had been that way until I turned 14 and finally started going to middle school. At school, I learned so much and it helped me to discover so much more. Everything has been a lot better since then.
This is such a wonderful program to have. We hope that more people can benefit from this program moving forward.