This March, I participated in the Dash for Kids/RunWalkSign! 5k which was held at the Louisiana School for the Deaf in Baton Rouge, LA. I learned about this experience thanks to my sister, Kerrigan Hunt, who has been taking American Sign Language (ASL) classes at Tulane University for a year now. The 5k included a fun run, which was about a mile long run before the 5k to use as a warm-up or for those who could not do a full 5k, and some other fun activities like a concert and jambalaya. Very last minute (like a week beforehand) I decided to go with her and my mother, Jackie Hunt, and I am so happy I did.
We had to wake up quite early in the morning to make it all the way to Baton Rouge by 8 am and avoid the traffic. The morning was very foggy and a bit chilly, making the drive feel a little eerie. I remember being slightly nervous to attend, I had never been around many deaf people and did not want to seem out of place. My sister, however, was excited and made me feel a lot more comfortable and confident. Pulling into the school grounds was enchanting. The long driveway, many trees and thick fog made it seem like a scene from a movie. Along the entrance, we passed many younger children playing and running around, and the adults were setting up and attempting to corral them. From a distance, I could see some people signing and others talking. It was interesting to watch the different types of interactions and made me feel more at ease. After we parked, we walked to the tents to get our numbers for the 5K and Fun Run. There was a wide variety of people there from all different ages. There were volunteer ASL interpreters everywhere who were eager to help.
At the table for registering and getting our numbers, we met Stuart Sonnier who is the treasurer for the Louisiana School for the Deaf Foundation (LSDF). When talking to him, I learned a few things about the run and the foundation. He explained to me that the foundation is separate from the school and that the 2019 run was in conjunction with Deaf Focus. Both Deaf Focus and LSDF are non-profits based in the Baton Rouge area whose main goals are to bring awareness to the deaf community and to emphasize the importance of deaf education.
The 5K itself was very fun (even though we walked most of it), I loved the feeling of learning more about a community that was new to me. Everyone was eager to be there and participate. When we finished the 5K, there was a huge amount of jambalaya and more people arrived to see the concert. Ironically, some of my friends from Tulane even showed up to watch! They signed and p
erformed P!nk’s ‘Just Like Fire’ and it was so exciting to watch!
This experience as a whole made me feel more comfortable with myself and with a new community. Learning about new cultures and communities is essential to being and becoming a successful educator. When you are an educator, you have to be prepared to experience new things that can be uncomfortable at first, and always have the urge to continue learning. I think especially the deaf community can be over-generalized and stereotyped when in actuality, this community is extremely diverse. Overall, I feel more prepared for the different communities and cultures that I will be interacting with in the future.