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Sign Language is part of a global education

To the Editor:

I would like to thank Ashwin Shandilya for bringing recognition to the Undergraduate Assembly’s support for Penn’s ASL courses to satisfy the foreign language requirement (“Signing off on a change,” 1/28/10).

I’d like to dispel the general notion that American Sign Language doesn’t provide the same access to global education as other spoken languages. It is well documented that signers from different linguistic backgrounds can come to a mutual understanding far more quickly than can people who rely on spoken language. Deaf people are well-known global travelers who make strong connections with people who use other signed languages. As such, exposure to a signed language and interactions within deaf communities would give students transnational access to worldwide deaf communities in which they can expand their knowledge of deaf cultures and other signed languages. Indeed, in learning ASL, the potential for global access is exponential!

Our students can expand their Deaf cultural and signed language experience in Siena, Italy. There, they are involved in an intensive program to learn Italian Sign Language, spoken Italian, and Italian deaf culture. This program gives even further opportunity to put the potential of “global experience” into practice.

Penn students have potential to impact deaf communities. We’d like to see that opportunity extended to Wharton students.

Jami Fisher

The author is Penn’s American Sign Language Program Coordinator.

Don’t take down our posters

To the Editor,

Anyone familiar with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict knows the theme of victimization. The Israelis feel victimized by the barrage of rockets that are fired indiscriminately into their homes. The Palestinians feel victimized when Israel goes into Gaza to defend itself. Unfortunately, it seems to be an endless cycle.

But the real victim here (“Confronting the Israel-Palestine Conflict” 1/19/10) is not Israel or Palestine or Rachel Baker or Dara Elass. The real victim here is the most basic and vital of all civil liberties afforded in this country: the freedom of speech.

It is one thing to disagree with signs posted around campus. However, ripping down upwards of 200 of Penn Israel’s fliers and posters spanning Locust Walk is unacceptable. This type of overzealous vigilantism cannot be tolerated or ignored by the student body. This is a bigger issue than defending Israel. Penn is supposed to be a bastion of constructive debate and dialogue. This isn’t achieved by stifling the legitimate voices of pro-Israel students.

Stop tearing down our posters. Give us back our voice.

Kevin Beckoff and Max Levy The authors are College freshmen and Co-Chairmen of Israel Dialogue, Hillel Israel Sector.

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