By Amanda Mayberry
The Chatting Hands Club is using their voices and their hands to advocate their message to students and the world.
The president of the club Aron Camargo said, “We want to inform people that deafness isn’t a disorder and people shouldn’t be embarrassed to communicate with the deaf.” This spring semester is Camargo’s first time as president, though he has been a member since the club first began four semesters ago in 2010.
He has been studying American Sign Language for just about as long. As the club’s new president, Camargo and club members are working hard and doing their best to spread awareness and uphold the clubs mission. Last Tuesday, the club was raising money for some of its many activities. They sold pizza, baked goods and agua de fruta made by club member Dahvid Fahrias.
On June 16, the club intends to hold a deaf awareness walk in the football stadium. The event will host vendors, special guest speakers and some local media covering the event. The money raised at the event will be donated to various organizations. Camargo said the club is donating its proceeds to Holy Angels, an all-deaf church in Vernon, California.
The club will also donate money to the California Home of the Adult Deaf and to the Child Development Center on campus to help with budget cuts. Most of the clubs members have taken at least one semester of American Sign Language, but not all the club’s members know signing. “Not everyone here speaks sign language, but everyone wants to learn and for that, we have tutoring sessions,” Fahrias said.
Other members, such as Philip Hooper, began learning signing before attending ELAC.“I took two years in high school. It was a class offered at my school, plus I was on the football team with a kid who was deaf,” said Hooper while translating his words into sign language.
Hooper, who joined the club three weeks ago, said the club is “cool” and “fun.” Fahrias, who is also a member of the soccer team, is currently enrolled in his second sign language course with one of the club’s advisers, Thomas Garcia.
This is Fahrias’s first semester as a member of the club, and his second semester enrolled with Garcia.
“It’s a new experience,” said Fahrias of learning sign language. “I’m eager to learn which I think helps me learn faster. Thomas is an awesome and patient teacher,” Fahhrias said. Garcia himself is deaf and has been teaching American Sign Language 1-4 on campus since 2009.
He was offered a teaching position at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., but he turned it down to continue his teaching career here at ELAC. Garcia is the fifth-out-of-seven deaf Hispanics to have a doctorate. “It is enjoyable,” Garcia said. “I want to be buried here,” Garcia said laughing.