Elizabeth Peteya sees ASL as Rich and Welcoming Culture
By Maria Kesaris
The first time Peteya saw a sign language interpreter was three years ago at student orientation. She thought the language itself was interesting and wanted to learn more.
“I thought she looked so confident and sure of herself,” said Peteya. “The language was intriguing to me.”
Peteya then met a boy who was deaf and he took time to teach her different signs. She wanted to learn more, so she took an American Sign Language course and knew that she wanted to make a career out of it.
Peteya has been in the interpreting program at the Seymoun Joseph Institute for almost a year. She has learned a lot about not only the language itself but also the culture.
Even though Peteya is becoming an interpreter, she is an arts major at CSI.
After she graduates, she hopes to get her masters in Art Therapy.
Art has been a passionate form of expression for Peteya. Being able to make her own art has given her independence and confidence to achieve something on her own.
“Sign Language has opened my mind,” said Peteya. “It has made me try to understand people on a closer basis.”
Her main goal is to be an interpreter for deaf children and to also use art as a form of communication with children that struggle with words.
She hopes that she can use both her knowledge in art and Sign Language and merge them in the future.
Peteya hopes to be successful in both fields. Even though she wants to succeed, she also wants to enjoy her career.
She is happy that she found a career that she is fond of.
Even though Peteya enjoys Sign Language, it also comes with some difficulties. She has always felt that she might not live up to her expectations and not be fully accepted by the community because she is stepping into someone else’s world and way of life.
In the beginning, she felt like an outsider and it was overwhelming for her because, although she was intrigued, she didn’t want to overstep her boundaries.
As soon as she went to her first Deaf event she was welcomed by everyone and was amazed at how accepting the people were.
Even though her experience was inviting, she still has that fear of acceptance.
The most rewarding thing for Peteya is being able to understand the Sign Language community as a whole. She is proud to know different forms of communication without using words.
Another rewarding thing for Peteya is knowing that she will be making a difference in other peoples lives.
She is proud to know that the career she has chosen is one that can help others.
“Just knowing in the future that I can facilitate communication between deaf and hearing worlds,” exclaimed Howard. “is an accomplishment on its own.”
Peteya’s classmates and professors have become more of a family rather than school mates. Her professors are more like colleagues and they give Peteya and her classmates the support and courage to move forward in this career.
She learned that, while Sign Language is a form of communication, it is also a culture, that it’s beyond just being a language.
“Most Deaf people don’t consider being deaf a disability,” Said Peteya. “And find it offensive when people call them disabled.”