Deaf Cartoon Workshop

Year 2007
Place: National Campus Auditorium
Trainer: Yogesh Khapangi (Vice President: Nepal Cartoon Association)
Facilitator and Interpreter: Sarah Giri

Yogesh Khapangi and I were neighbors at the time of this story. He and his beautiful wife expressed a keen desire to learn and examine spirituality as I have understood it. So every weekend we would meet up in their home and over coffee, share a subject so very so close to our hearts.

Well, time for small talk! I asked him about his profession. He said he’d been the official Cartoonist for the past seven years for the government national daily. What else? He was preparing material to teach animation and cartoon drawing. I said ‘Wow!’ and told him of the dual culture I live. The Hearing culture by birth and second, the Deaf culture by choice and association!

He was amazed to know that Cartoon Communication is deeply connected with Deaf Culture. In my opinion, we culturally Deaf live inside a completely visual world where everyone and everything is explained and remembered visually. For instance, when we the Deaf want to refer to someone we do not know by name, we sign some visually evident physical features in the person It could be anything from the person peculiar hairdo, walk, a deep dimpled cheek, eye shape or some visible mark on the face or hands. We can even draw these out. Yes, the Deaf observation is the sharp observation of the Cartoonist! The Deaf expression matches the artistically exaggerated expression of the Cartoonist.

Yogesh was struck. I asked if he could professionally accept conducting a week long workshop on Cartoon Communication for Deaf students. I offered to sign all the sessions. He agreed and began preparing the program flow.

But where would we have this workshop? For one full week?
I had to speak to speak to Sagun Pant, Executive Director, National Campus where I then worked as Director Academics and Communications. After all, National Campus policy was to sensitize students to Deaf Culture. We had it in writing in our new campus magazine. Sagun Pant agreed. Still, we were not ready to take off.

Where are the students?
They were in the school for the Deaf in Naxal, Kathmandu and that was my next door to knock. The Principal and Vice Principal were very sweet but naturally their focus was on not disturbing regular classes. Especially with senior students as the final exams were due in the next 6 months. Cartoon drawing was something that could be done at leisure. But I was not going away. I was convinced that this event would be a high point in the lives of my Deaf colleagues. It could give us Deaf an employment option to think about. It would enrich our appreciation of our own Culture. We negotiated and discussed and eventually, yes, consensus raised its pretty head!

In addition to students from the school, invitations were floated to other Deaf friends already in college and some working. Finally, the numbers came up to 35!

We were ready to take off and we did!
The one week flew by. Certificates issued by National Campus and signed by Yogesh Khapangi were ready. The press was informed and we expected a strong presence.

Two unanswered questions remained: Who will be the Chief Guest to do the honor of giving away certificates?
The answers were ready. This time, Deaf would be Chief Guest at Deaf Event. This time, Deaf would give away the certificates to the Deaf. This time, from the stage, Deaf would call out the names of the Deaf.

I looked around my life and spotted an absolutely admirable Deaf couple. Bhairav and Mithila Pudasaini. Well what is so very admirable about this couple?  As Deaf parents, they've brought up three well adjusted Hearing children. The eldest, a daughter, was a distinction student throughout school years and is now working towards admission into a medical college! As contributing members in society, they run a neighborhood tailoring shop and employ six hearing workers! Yes, it would be
Bhairav and Mithila as Chief Guests. Who will call out the names and be part of this ceremony?

Another Deaf role model! Ramesh Shrestha. What role model? The first Deaf to pass SLC exams in the country, the first Deaf to be to date a respected school teacher and a hostel warden for Deaf students. You can see him below right in a white shirt, signing a name.

The final day of the workshop dawned. One day earlier, the students submitted their works, Yogesh evaluated them, gave one on one inputs and many of those creations were pinned up for display. You may see these in the Photo Gallery Section.

It was a Friday. The Press reporters came in one by one. The Chief Guests, Vice-Principals from the School for the Deaf and other invited academicians were all present. We had music playing. Music?

It was a piece composed by world famous and beloved composer after he became Deaf, Ludwig van Beethoven. It was a piece that Beethoven did not hear. It was a piece that the Deaf present there could not hear either.

How were the names called out?  We the Deaf do not use voice to call out names. We the Deaf have Signed names. These names connect with something visually evident in our personality. Sometimes, they are given to us by other Deaf or we give them to ourselves. I have a Signed name too. It connects with my Mongolian eyes and the first letter of my name.

So, here we go! Ramesh Shrestha came on stage. He knew the Signed Names of all 35 participants. What a feat! He signed each name with accuracy and beauty. In response, up walked the right person in the midst of pin drop silence. Again, I mean silence as we know it. Because, more than 70 hands rose and ‘loudly’ waved the Deaf applause!  The certificates were handed over by Bhairav Pudasaini. You can see him in the grey suit.

Finally, after interaction with Press reporters, tea and refreshments it was time to get into the National Campus bus and be dropped home. But this week of association, this week of learning Cartoon Communication from a guru in the field will all remain a memory treasured to time indefinite.

 Deaf Workshop Gallery

Comments (4)

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A Poem by Deaf Anir
Hello! My thoughts on Hearing perspective on Sign Language:

They feel moon is minority.
They can see moon as deaf
But never go there.
They think the moon is not valuable
So the moon is always
Separate from the hearing world.

But they wonder why moon smiles.
So we realize heart never depend on sound.
Senses can depend on heart.
Ear is closed
And eye gives us chance to have
For hearing, mouth to ear to heart
Yes for deaf hands to eyes to heart.
We realize heart is not only important for
Hearing but also deaf.
The deaf can be equal to the hearing.
When he came back to the
Hearing world, he told that he enjoyed associating with
Everyone wants to learn sign language
But they never step to do it.

That's the moon .... enjoy it from a distance .... Hearing perspective??

Anirban Dasgupta , December 29, 2008
Hi Sarah,
Hi Sarah, I believe you are Anirban's friend, who is my friend as well. True, I dont know Sign Language much. But, I do appreciate your efforts in sign field, a culture that you don't want to return.

Keep up the good work. :)
With warm christian love,
Maria , December 30, 2008
The deaf people of large merry-go- around .
Large merry-go-around that are very beautiful and light twinkles , joy and laugh like the deaf people who are many thousands of their emotions for hearing friends who tears at their feelings and some deaf cartoonists provide for hearing children to understand what did the cartoon people saying . That why many children like to join in MERRY-GO-AROUND because of their enjoyment .
TIJU ISSAC , March 02, 2009
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