Deaf ABE Students and Staff Perform National Anthem

You might have missed it, but the Minnesota Twins baseball game on September 24, 2016 featured a small but industrious group who assisted the fans during the national anthem. The CSD Adult Basic Education (ABE) program has led the fans in signing the national anthem for the past four years. I had the opportunity to interview two of them, Ms. Amino Hanshi and Ms. Shawn Whiting. They both practiced diligently to do a good job in front of the Deaf community members who attended the game.

Ms. Hanshi and Ms. Whiting were selected by the CSD Adult Basic Education (ABE) program to sign the national anthem during the CSD’s annual Deaf Day at Twins Stadium on September 24, 2016. I had the opportunity to interview both of them and while they could not be more different in their backgrounds they were united in excitement at being selected to sign the “Stars and Stripes.”

Ms. Amino Hanshi is a native born Somali woman who recently moved to Minnesota and has been attending CSD’s ABE classes since 2013. I asked her how she felt about standing up in front of all those people at the Twins Stadium. She said that she was shy, but that “she wanted to support Deaf people by signing the national anthem. “I asked her why she volunteered and she said that “…staying home was boring and she always wanted to be learning something new.” She was a little concerned because she wasn’t sure how she could afford a ticket to get into the game. Then she was told that CSD would supply her with a free ticket. “Free?” she asked hesitantly, and was told yes, free. She also learned that would receive a free t-shirt. Again she wanted to make sure she understood correctly and asked again “… it is Free?” yes she was told again, it was free. Even though she describes herself as a shy person she wanted to support the Deaf fans who were at the game and agreed to join the group.

Ms. Hanshi moved to America from Kenya in 2013. She is originally from Somalia but had to move to Kenya because of the war in her home country. She began attending ABE classes and really misses her teacher, Galinda Goss-Kuehn who has retired to Hawaii. Ms. Hanshi said that her teacher was emphatic that it was important for us “… to not just stay home and cook and be lazy. Instead we need to come to school and even do homework.”

I also had the opportunity to interview Ms. Shawn Whiting, another delightful member of the ABE signing choir. Ms. Whiting grew in Rochester, Minnesota and attended the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf until she was 13 years old. Her mother then relocated to Florida to work at the “other” Mayo clinic in their registration department. Ms. Whiting currently works at the CSD ABE program as their office manager and domestic violence advocate. She describes herself as an extraverted “social butterfly” who was thrilled to be asked to join the team for this event. Her goal was to perform the national anthem flawlessly and she succeeded in her goal. She credits Kelsey, a part time educator with ABE as well as Julie, a full time educator with ABE for the choir’s successful performance. Kelsey is hearing and interpreted the song for Julie who then signed the translated version so the ABE choir could be in sync with the hearing performers.

You can catch the ABE choir members signing the national anthem on YouTube. Ms. Hanshi had fun showing it to her sister’s family afterwards. They wanted to know where she had learned to sign the “Stars and Stripes.” Ms. Hanshi proudly told them, “I learned it at school (the ABE program).”

Ms. Hanshi is hoping that she will be able to sign again at next year’s Deaf Day.

~contributed by Carrie Wilbert, BS, CI and CT

ThinkSelf/CSD ABE Volunteer

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