Note from Uncle Dale: Meeting A Hero

You know when you hear the story of an event over and over, or tell the story of that event as an example or to support your point over and over, but you have never actually met any of the players involved.

And then you meet one of them.

Meeting the person you have talked about for what feels like your whole life, having that person is right there in front of you, it’s a weird feeling.

If the reason you tell the story is highly significant to your work or culture or personal interests, but not to people in general, it’s hard to explain to the “uninitiated” why you are so excited to meet a person they may never have heard of. They just don’t get it.

It’s like trying to explain a meme to your grandma.

So, this happened yesterday:

If you do not know who this is, you should. It was a moment where two of my great passions, Deafness and the Law, came together.

This is Amy June Rowley.

I have said her name and told her story easily a thousand times in classrooms and court rooms for the past 20 years.

Now, like I said, if you don’t recognize the name, as an interpreter or a member of the Deaf community, you should. Take a minute and read this.

https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/458/176/

I’m an advocate. I was born that way. My mother encouraged my journey down that road. This case has always made my blood boil.

I disagree with the decision. I disagree with the reasoning for it.

But, I have always loved the idea of Amy Rowley. She has always occupied the same place in my mind as Linda Brown (who recently passed away).

https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/347/483/case.html

I can’t think of one without the other. Proud and strong little girls standing up before a system that is ultimately unfair to proud and strong little girls who stand up to the system.

When I thought of Amy Rowley I saw this iconic image in my head:

But now I will see this:

I will see a brilliant and strong woman who, unlike Linda Brown who was vindicated by nine white men, was disappointed by nine hearing justices but did not allow that moment to define who she is.

That is the most important thing I learned from meeting Amy Rowley, Board of Educ. v. Rowley, is part of her history but is not who she is.

That is when Amy Rowley changed in my mind from a character in a story to a real live hero.

Amy June Rowley is a hero not because she and her parents stood up against impossible odds and lost. Amy June Rowley is a hero because the best revenge is a good life and she has done just that!

She is a proud and strong mother who is Deaf of proud and strong children who are Deaf. She is a hero because “Dr. Amy June Rowley is the Coordinator of the American Sign Language Program in Modern Languages and Literatures department. She completed her dissertation in 2014 in Second Language Education in Urban Education from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee which focused on American SignLanguage Advanced Studies Programs: Implementation Procedures and Identifying Empowering Practices. She holds a professional level certification inAmerican Sign Language Teachers Association (ASLTA). Her research interests are systemic and hierarchal structure of American Sign Language programs in postsecondary institutions; and relationships between students/interpreters and the Deaf community. She has published articles related to Audism, oppression and special education experiences. Prior to coming to Cal State- East Bay, she was the coordinator of the American Sign Language Program at the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee for nine years” (from her bio).

Just as the Supreme Court had the chance to clean up its own mess in Plessy v. Ferguson with its decision in Brown v. Board of Education it took a positive step in redeeming itself for Board of ed. v. Rowley with is recent decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas County.

http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/endrew-f-v-douglas-county-school-district/

It’s nowhere near enough, but it’s a start.

Anyway.

If you get a chance to attend a lecture or presentation by Dr. Rowley don’t miss it. Afterward please shake her hand and let her know she is the hero we all need. Not because she stood up to injustice and was knocked down, but because she got up and became the person she is without the permission of history.

That is what a hero does.

Uncle Dale Says Thank You!

Thank you!

It’s important to say it.

I love to celebrate milestones and we hit one yesterday. Over 18,000 of you stopped by for a visit over 50,000 times this year.

When I first started this I hoped it would resonate with the experiences of many Sign Language Interpreters, but I had no idea it would resonate with all kinds of interpreters in over 90 countries.

Thank you all so much for enjoying this journey with me!

UD!

Note from Uncle Dale: Mentoring, If I Do This Right I’m Out Of A Job, RID Views (Spring 2018) #UncleDalesVIEWS

A teacher teaches you something you didn’t already know.

A mentor helps you realize how much you do know.

A teacher instructs you on a principle or skill.

A mentor helps you to figure out how to apply it.

A teacher gives you a grade.

A mentor gives you a perspective…

I am both a teacher and a mentor and despite what I said above the VERY end goal of both jobs is the same. I want you not to need me. If I do my job correctly, I will teach you more than just skills and applications. If I do this right, I will have instilled in you a love of the process and a desire to improve your abilities because you love to, not because you have to. Most importantly, I will have helped you develop the internal structure and foundation so you know how to continue learn, to teach yourself, when I am gone. In order to be the best mentor I can be, there are some things that both you and I have to clearly understand.

IF YOU COULD DO IT, YOU WOULD NOT NEED ME.

The whole reason we are meeting is to develop your skills. If you could produce a perfect interpretation, you would not need me. (I, on the other hand, would love to make an appointment to have you mentor me!) You should not be shy or embarrassed to show me your work. That is why I’m here. If you hold back, I can’t get a good read on your cur- rent levels – in other words, I can’t evaluate what I don’t see.

Don’t apologize at the beginning or the end of an exercise. You don’t have to. I’m not offended by gaps in your skill sets. Don’t stop in the middle of an exercise to tell me you messed up. (Psst. Big secret? I know when you messed up… I can see it.) Just take a breath in through your nose and out through your mouth and move on. Once again, that is why we are here!

Don’t worry about screwing up in front of me! Take risks. Be creative. If you are going to be wrong, be definitively wrong! I will pull you back if you are getting too far out there. If you play it safe the whole time, you will just pro- duce the same work, and therefore the same errors, over and over. Keep this in mind: no matter what happens in this interpreter lab, there is ZERO POSSIBILITY that anyone will go to the morgue or that anyone will go to jail. It is my job to make sure you succeed in your work. (Because the client trusted me enough to agree to have you come to her work or doctor’s appointment or other meeting. She trusted me enough to agree to let you learn while she lives. I will NOT let either of you down.)

WE ARE NOT HAVING A COMPETITION.

I am not competing with you so don’t try to compare yourself to me. Unbalanced comparisons lead to hopelessness. Let me put that another way. I’m better than you at inter- preting (at least right now). If I wasn’t, you would have no reason to want me to mentor you. But I do not have more inborn ability than you. Any natural talent I may have started with has ceased to be important a long time ago (I will explain that in a minute). What I do have is time invested in doing this work. If you are just starting out, I could have very close to 30 years of experience more than you. (Wow, that made me choke just a little… I’m so old.) It’s not about talent. Talent gets you two years of people saying “Oh you are so talented” and after that, people want to see skill. So, I am better than you, but not because I have more ability. I just have more practice.

Don’t get discouraged if it looks easy for me. The operative word in that sentence is “looks.” It’s never easy, even for me. What looks like ease is the application of years of interpreting things just like this. I have a full toolbox to choose from and I will help you build yours! You must always remember that behind my smooth production and calm eyes there is a massive amount of mental dancing happening!

DON’T DEIFY ME, I WORK FOR A LIVING!

I send students out to work with experienced interpreters and sometimes when they come back, I hear, “She is so great at interpreting! I will NEVER be that good!” Don’t do that. She was not born interpreting like that. She had to work to get there. As you are now, that highly skilled and experienced interpreter once was, and as she is now, you may someday be – if you put in the work and time. She didn’t get there by rubbing a lamp or answering a wizard’s riddle or winning the lottery. She tried and failed and got up and dusted off and tried again. If you knew how many times she failed, you would know how dangerous it is to put her on a pedestal. Every time she fell down on her journey she got back up.

 

MY FINAL POINT.

My job is to help you to stand up when you stumble until you can stand up without me. If I do my job right, you will call me long after you have become that skilled, experi- enced, working interpreter to help you help the next gen- eration. My job as a mentor is to help you to become the mentor who comes after me.

 

 

Note from Uncle Dale: The Last Word or Let’s Go Swimming

The first of my regular articles for RID Views was published today.

It’s called “The Last Word or Let’s Go Swimming.

Enjoy it here and join the conversation at #viewsthelastword

https://www.rid.org/2018/02/note-from-uncle-dale/

https://www.rid.org/2018/02/note-from-uncle-dale/

VIEWS from Uncle Dale: #viewsthelastword

I am honored to have been invited to produce a regular feature for RID Views. The first of these articles will be published in the Spring edition of Views on February 15th. These articles will be comprised of an ASL VLOG, a written companion piece and a hashtag designed to promote and identify discussion on the specific article topic across social media.

The topic for the upcoming edition of Views is “Legislation.” And the tentative hashtag is #viewsthelastword

When the article is published I will post a link on the blog. I look forward to our discussions in this new format!!

UD