A dozen students from NTID spent much of January’s intercession in Chile, learning about its history, culture, politics and Chilean Sign Language.
A dozen students from Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf spent much of January’s intercession in Chile, learning about its history, culture, politics and Chilean Sign Language.
“By the end of the trip, we all were conversing with one another in Chilean sign, American Sign Language and Spanish,” said Denise Kavin, an NTID faculty member and the liaison between NTID and RIT’s study abroad programs. “Yes, it was confusing, but oh, so cool.”
The students prepared for their trip with a 15-week course about Chile. Then, as Rochester embarked on a cold, snowy January, the group – including two interpreters and three faculty members – flew to Santiago.
“We had 85 degrees every day while Rochester had subzero temperatures,” said Michael Stein, a faculty member in NTID’s liberal arts program. Stein, who previously lived in Chile for a year, helped plan the trip.
“We focused on getting to know the Chilean deaf community, to learn more about deaf rights there and to expand cultural awareness,” Stein said. “For many of our students, it was the first time they had traveled abroad.”
The group visited schools and beaches, sampled exotic foods and shared their experiences with deaf Chilean students.
The course, “Chile and the Deaf Community” is expected to be offered to students in the fall, with a two-week trip planned in January 2015. A trip to Costa Rica is planned this June, and eight RIT/NTID students took a photography course as part of the Deaf Studies program at the Siena School in Siena, Italy, last summer.
“RIT is committed to creating more study-abroad programs," Kavin said. The students earned six credits for their study and travel.
“If you ever want to travel to another country, grab the opportunity,” said Hugo Perez, a civil engineering technology major from Los Angeles.