Here’s Your Sign to Community Engagement

Last Monday, team Swift Kick had the amazing opportunity to learn American Sign Language (ASL) at our Q4 retreat! Tom, Jay, and Sami virtually met with two amazing humans – Matt and Martise.

A little background:

Matt and Martise met at Gallaudet University. Martise started signing to Matt, and Matt just nodded. He clearly did not understand what Martise was saying. Long story short, Matt grew up in a house without sign language. Martise, on the other hand, learned how to sign since he was young. When they met, they became friends and decided to create a community to help those who wanted to learn ASL. Now, the cool twist with all of this is the community/experience they teach is through music! Yep, that is right – Matt is the man bringing music to the deaf community (and teaching their allies as well).

Our experience:

After our experience with Matt and Martise, I asked the team what their highlights of the event were and anything else they wanted to say about their experience. 

Tom: From the moment we started, it was clear that Matt and Martise had been friends for a long time. They naturally bounced off of each other. Their energy and friendly spirit made my energy go up, and I was more willing to participate. As for the learning parts, I appreciated how they attached a word to each letter of the American Sign Language alphabet because for a kinesthetic learner like myself, it made it much easier to remember the signs for all 26 letters. Lastly, at the end of the program, they invited us to ask questions about what it’s like to be deaf and the deaf community. While it’s not something I’ve thought about a lot in the past, their welcoming invite to learn more allowed our team to ask a lot of questions and learn things I’m not sure I would’ve ever learned, such as American Sign Language’s sign for Donald Trump (think comb-over lol).  

Jay: I am always up for learning something new, and this activity gave me that opportunity. One of my favorite things I learned was the ABCs in ASL. It was interesting because not only did Matt and Martise show us how to sign the alphabet, we also learned how to do an action that started with the letter we learned. For example, we learned the letter B and then how to sign the word “busy.” (I would have to say my favorite sign that we learned overall was Donald Trump which is basically a comb-over motion.) The second thing I enjoyed experiencing was seeing how Matt and Martise teach through Zoom calls and learning new things about their community. It was welcoming and great to learn something new – I am thankful to Sami for choosing this activity. (Thanking her in ASL currently).

Sami: I was amazed at how welcoming Matt and Martise were. As soon as we jumped on zoom, we saw Matt with a beautiful beaming smile. He welcomed us and we jumped right into the learning. We had a great time getting to know the ABCs in ASL (I can now sign Margarita Monday, Tequila Tuesday, and Wine Wednesday for those of you who needed to know that info). We also learned some useful everyday signs such as: busy, funny, fun, please, thank you, sorry, and many more! Matt and Martise also taught us how to put emotion behind our signs which is extreamly helpful in the deaf comunity They also let us do an open Q&A at the end with any burning questions we may have had. Personally, I am so thankful for this experience and can not wait to use the signs that we learned through my everyday life.

Why we chose this experience:

As the community manager, I have the amazing opportunity to choose each quarter what our “merrymaking” is. For those of you who do not know, “merrymaking” is a fun experience that the group gets to wind down and do. It’s an activity that fits the theme of our retreat. I decided to make our merrymaking an educational experience that I knew would be fun yet useful. It will help the team step out of their comfort zone and experience a new language. Not only did I choose this experience for our team but our community as well. Swift Kick travels all over the country. We know that we have Swift Kick family out and about that are a part of the deaf community. We love connecting with our community as a whole – so we decided to take it one step further and connect with our ASL community as well. Don’t get me wrong, we are certainly not professionals, however, we are very excited to have learned what we did and will take this experience with us from here on out. 

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