Culture Shock

New customs. New people. New home. It’s easy to understand why so many foreigners feel overwhelmed after moving to America, a feeling described by many as “culture shock.”

“The strangest thing for me was deaf advocacy,” said Tobias Jacobi, an international student at Gallaudet. “There aren’t even any closed captioned movies or televisions in Germany!”

Jacobi describes an environment in Germany totally distinct from the one  we’ve grown accustomed to here in America. There, deaf identities are suppressed. “There’s a form of sign language in Germany called DGS (Deutche Gebärdensprache), but it’s not supported by the country like ASL is in the United States,” he explained. “Most deaf schools are made up by half mentally disabled and people who are actually deaf. It becomes quite a burden because the curriculum you’re following has been made with the mentally disabled in consideration.”

Jacobi continued: “So, the education is rather easy. Germany has very low expectations for deaf citizens, considering finding janitorial work an achievement.” Despite the lowered expectations, most citizens of Germany are at least trilingual, with Russian, Latin, French and English.

The presence of International students has always not only been essential to the diversity of Gallaudet. Their presence also provides American students with a valuable learning experience.  Many Americans feel apprehensive when dealing with foreigners, unsure of whether or not they come across as rude to them somehow, so learning how to interact with them is a valuable job experience that many employers would consider an asset.

Most international students enrolled at Gallaudet are Canadians, with 45 citizens, China coming in second with 13, according to Gallaudet’s own Office of International Programs and Services’ study entitled International Student Statistics (2013).

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