Here at Northeastern there are hundreds of great student organizations to get involved in! We want to highlight some organizations that you may not know, so we’re interviewing members of student organizations to learn a little bit about them and what their club is about. Tune in every week for a new post from The Club Chronicle! 

The Club Chronicle Interview #29: ASL Interpreting Club

Tell me about yourself and the ASL Interpreting Club.

I’m Kelli, I’m a 3rd year American Sign Language interpreting major, I have minors in Theater and Behavioral Neuroscience, but really sign language is my passion. I am part of the Board of the ASL Interpreting Club. Some people call us the interpreting club others call us the ASL Club but on Facebook you can find us at ICNU, standing for Interpreting Club NU. The ASL Club is just a friendly space to practice. All of our meetings are run in ASL but they’re interpreted. That’s why we’re the Interpreting Club because it’s accessible to everyone. A lot of people assume you have to be an interpreting major or you have to know sign language to come and that’s not our mission. Our mission is to make it known that we have an ASL program here and that if you want to learn this is a good place to start to practice. Maybe you come to the club you decide this is fun and maybe next semester you pick up a class. Or maybe you come to the club and say I have some experience but I don’t know where to find Deaf people in the Boston area and we tell you where to go and volunteer. We also have our own events. 

Can you tell me about the events you put on? 

Every month, on the first or second Thursday, we have our meeting in Shillman 105 from 4-5. At the meeting we play games, we chat, we talk to underclassmen about their classes, make sure they’re not overwhelmed, and see if they need support. People just coming into the program may  need that feeling of a community there backing you. It can be a little overwhelming having teachers who dont speak your language. Maybe you have questions that are not getting answered in class, we can help. Events outside of meetings vary. The last Friday of every month we have what’s called a Starbucks chat. It’s at the Starbucks on Boylston St. Some of the staff who work there are NU alumni and current students and they sign, so people from the club and members of the Deaf community locally will gather there. It is one of our most popular events. We’ve been doing it for about two years and I think we get over 100 Deaf people coming to everyone. It’s great, you go and just chat. We also have an upcoming valentines day workshop. It will be the Thursday the week of Valentine’s Day. We’ll go through all the signs connected to love, sex and romance. The teachers teach them, it’s very fun and awkward, it’s great. Every year we all end up laughing and then we eat a bunch of candy. We also have what we call voice off dinners the Thursday the week after the meeting at Panera Bread on Huntington. It’s exactly what it sounds like, whether you sign or not you can’t talk. It’s an exercise in being uncomfortable, getting people used to that feeling of not using your voice to communicate. Some of the board members like myself who have cars will go to local events together. There’s an art show coming up by a Deaf artist in Cambridge, Christine Sun is her name, and we’re all going together.

Members of the Interpreting Club at an art show

You mentioned earlier you have a Facebook do you have other social media?

Yes we have an Instagram which is NUinterpretingclub. We also have an email list if anyone wants to get on it they can direct message us. The email list is the best way to stay in contact because we send out weekly or biweekly blasts.They include all of the events going on with links. 

How long has the club been around for?

Longer than I’ve been here, I think over a decade at least. It’s changed a lot. It used to be very small and they would just have majors come. Now I think the ASL Club is for beginning signers now. We’re trying to be more welcoming. People don’t know yet how much they can love sign language. People tend to just stumble into it and find out they love, that’s how half the majors ended up here. We want to share that with other people because it’s great, why keep it to ourselves. Thats a big change over the last few years is we’re gearing towards, not like recruitment, but this is our passion and we want to share it with you

About how many students are involved this semester?

I think about 30. Our membership sort of fluctuates people come to some meetings and don’t come to other. We’re not a very commitment intense club. We’d like to see more people turn out, but some events draw more people than others like the Starbucks chat draws way more people. 

How can students get involved, is it as simple as showing up to the meetings? 

Yeah show up to the meetings, show up to the events. If you’re hesitant to show up because you don’t know anyone you can always reach out to us on Facebook. All of our info is on our Facebook page. There’s no entry exam or anything like that. 

Members of the Interpreting Club at a Starbucks chat

What is your favorite event you’ve been a part of?

I’ve been involved since I was a freshman but I still think my favorite event is the Valentines Day workshop. It really is hilarious. We force our teachers to come teach us basically dirty words. It’s so funny. I also like some of our events that take us off campus. In the past we’ve gone to a local non profit called Deaf Inc. They do education and advocacy and outreach to the community. They have events there and I love when we can go there. But yeah I’m excited about the Valentine’s Day event we’re planning for this year. I also love the Starbucks chats they’ve been a big success. I’m very happy they’ve been so successful. We have had one every month for 3 years now. 

What’s one thing you wished people knew about the ASL Interpreting club?

I wish people knew were here. I wish people knew interpreting club doesn’t mean you have to come knowing sign. I wish people knew that we are so open to beginners or people who know literally nothing. I think at Northeastern you can do anything you want, you can join a Cheese Tasting club, so people don’t know we’re here. We have so much fun and so much to offer and people have so much to offer to us. We’d love for them to join us. So yeah I just wish people knew we were here.

What is your favorite part about your club?

You make really great friends, which is something that’s so valuable especially when you’re a first year. It can definitely be hard to transition but you can make great friends. I think everybody has a good time. We laugh with each other all the time because we all make mistakes. THat’s part of the fun. Screwing up together saying the wrong thing and figuring out how to sign it again is great. You also meet really cool Deaf people all the time and that’s great too.