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Are you giving me the finger?! Lessons Learned on language and culture from Deaf refugees in New Hampshire  

[presentation is tentatively scheduled for Friday, June 21 at 3 pm]


Presenters:  Bhawani Dangal and Julia Freeman-Woolpert


Description of the Presentation:

   The presenters will discuss the experience of Bhawani and other Deaf refugees in New Hampshire. They have struggled and often succeeded, in accessing effective communication with occasional humorous misunderstandings. When Bhawani first arrived, the resettlement program taught only English and placed Deaf refugees into English learning programs. Bhawani was fortunate to have ASL instruction through Vocational Rehabilitation, but for other Deaf refugees, there were no classes. Bhawani started an ASL class and convinced refugee families to allow their Deaf members to participate. Bhawani struggled and finally succeeded with the help of the Disability Rights Center - NH, in obtaining a waiver to work as an NSL to ASL Deaf interpreter, providing linguistic and cultural access to the Deaf refugee community. Bhawani and Julia share their journey to bridge the language and culture gaps, help Deaf refugees obtain resettlement services, learn ASL, find employment and obtain other social services. We will focus on lessons learned and recommendations for communities supporting Deaf refugees.

Presenters’ Bios:

Bhawani Dangal is a Deaf American citizen who arrived as a refugee from Bhutan in 2011. He quickly assumed a leadership role in the Deaf Bhutanese community. He works as an NSL to ASL deaf interpreter. In 2015, he was selected as one of Concord’s most fascinating individual by Concord Community Television. Bhawani has an Associate’s degree from Shree Gomendra Community College and is currently enrolled in the Road to Deaf Interpreting training series at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA.

Julia Freeman-Woolpert, M.Ed., was the Outreach Advocacy Director at the Disability Rights Center – NH until her retirement last year. She has worked as a mentor and an advocate for refugees for the past fifteen years, and with Deaf refugees since 2011. She spent a week in 2010 visiting the refugee camps in Nepal. She is a former advisor to the Bhutanese Community of NH and served from 2016-2018 on the NH Commission on Deafness and Hearing Loss as the DRC’s designee.