Journey toward Deaf World

Susan Siemens, a hearing ASL student, describes her experience of her journey toward the Deaf world where everyone speaks ASL. Her experience portrays in her beautiful textile work Flight DW124, in which she created for the class LS109 Fine Arts in Deaf Culture at Lakeland College/University of Alberta (Edmonton, Canada), February 2009.

"It was a journey and an awakening. It truly reflects how I feel about my flight or journey towards the Deaf world. It is very appealing to me, but at the same time, it is very scary."

She related her experience to the book Journey into the Deaf World that she had read. An experience of ASL students in their journey invariably involve excitement, naivete, hope and fear, struggles, misunderstandings, friendship, support and encouragement, uncertainty, perservance, and acceptance.

Journey into Deaf World
Flight DW124, textile by Susan Siemens. Photograph by Jolanta Lapiak.

Susan chose the fabric as her medium for the creative project. For her, it represents life that "individual threads are woven" into life. She titled it "Flight DW124" to reflect that "life sometimes takes a path of its own, and one in which we don't expect."

Journey into Deaf World
Flight DW124, textile by Susan Siemens. Photograph by Jolanta Lapiak.

There are some planets that represent different worlds. Susan explains that the colorful triangles represent "people [ASL students], of all different races, cultures, and walks of life. They are headed towards a common place, the Deaf World. Some veer off and head in different directions." Few ones eventually become a part of the Ameslan community as their language evolves. There is a little padlock on the DW planet. It signifies that "we can visit, explore, participate, read and learn but we will not be able to go there fully, since we are not native. However, we will be changed by our experience and we will be richer for it."

"I hope that it inspires others to think about their journeys, and how it isn't the final destination that affects a person always, but the journey that is important. Would I travel towards a place, again, knowing that I could never arrive? Yes, most definitely." -- Siemens.


Permissions (photograph and journal) from Susan Siemens, 2009.

[1] Siemens, Susan. Journal entries, February 2009.

Related Deafhood: a journey toward being Deaf.