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Making Friends Across Language Barriers
By Sarah B., YES Abroad 2015-2016, Bosnia and Herzegovina
During the past few weeks, I’ve become involved at the school for the deaf in Sarajevo, “Centar za slušnu i govonu rehabilitaciju Sarajevo” (Center of the Deaf and Hearing Impaired in Sarajevo). Back home, I was active in my local deaf community due to my knowledge of American Sign Language (ASL), and I wanted to continue that here. When I began pursuing opportunities in the Sarajevo deaf community, I discovered that Bosnian Sign Language is completely different from American Sign Language, and even Croatian Sign Language. Because of these differences in language, I’ve been teaching ASL to a group of deaf Bosnian students every week, as well as learning a bit of Bosnian Sign Language.
Rather than merely meeting a different group of Bosnians, I met a group of friends. The students at the school are eager to learn, incredibly friendly, and very welcoming. They overlooked our language barrier, the fact that I can hear, and that I’m not Bosnian to extend a hand of friendship. Teaching them ASL is rewarding in a way that I couldn’t have imagined. I’m not simply teaching a language class, I’m helping my friends pursue higher education and communicate with a larger variety of people.