Chelsea Corriveau, a student at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida has greatly enjoyed her experience virtually exchanging with peers in Qalqilya, in the Palestinian Territories. “Learning about another country through virtual exchange is much more exciting than reading about it in a book. I like the feeling of being present and the hands-on experience of virtual exchange.”
Through a grant administered by the Stevens Initiative, Sister Cities of Gainesville is connecting American Sign Language students at Santa Fe College with students of the Al-Amal Association for the Deaf School in Qalqilya. Level 3 American Sign Language students and higher with an interest in learning about Deaf culture in the Palestinian Territories were able to learn about the experiences of their peers in Qalqilya.
Under the facilitation of Professor Michelle Freas, students in the U.S. and in the Palestinian Territories are teaching each other American Sign Language and Palestinian Sign Language while collaborating on the creation of a Palestinian Sign Language video dictionary.
“What I love about this virtual exchange program is watching the light bulbs go off in my students’ heads as they interact with their counterparts abroad,” said Michelle. “They are starting to build an intrinsic sense for Palestinian Sign Language, and their increasing motivation to learn more about Deaf culture and their peers in the Palestinian Territories is really impactful to me as their facilitator.”