New England – Extended Segment: New Hampshire – Convo

[TRANSCRIPT]

About the New England video that Convo produced, they did a great job. It was their most beautiful work ever. Just beautiful. I was absolutely inspired. But, I had to take a look around among others and wonder, “Where was New Hampshire?” I saw Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island… But, no New Hampshire?

New England is not New England without New Hampshire.

We all know the story about Martha’s Vineyard, and of the Deaf community there, but, there was a community like it here in New Hampshire. In Henniker, New Hampshire, where there was a small community.

In the 1880s, there were 27 deaf people living in that town. Thomas Brown was the one who established
the New England Gallaudet Association of the Deaf, which led to the establishment of National Association of the Deaf in 1880.

The culture and the people are different here are different… it’s very different. There are many artists here. I’ve fallen in love with New Hampshire.

The Crotched Mountain School for the Deaf. It started from… 1955 to 1978.

I, along with 11 others, were the first Deaf students. Crotched Mountain didn’t permit sign language. It was, unfortunately, an oral institute. We were constantly feeling vibrations on our face and throat to speak.

We lipread, lipread, and lipread. We overworked our eyes.

I don’t know how I could’ve learn by feeling vibrations on my face. By the time I was done with class, my ears would be painfully red.

[Footage of Clayton Valli reciting a poem]

There were three Valli boys. One of them was Clayton Valli, whom many of you know. He was well-known. He came to Crotched Mountain because his parents preferred the boys closer to home. They looked at us and thought, “What the hell?” They thought we were mental.

INTERVIEWER: How did you get into ASL poetry?
CLAYTON: When I was about 12 years old, we received a certain assignment in class. I fell into it and felt something stir within me. It was to be in sign language. So, I gave the assignment a try in sign language, and found it very enjoyable.

We learned from them and picked up their signs. It made the teachers really think. So, they decided to set aside the oral practice, and allow sign language to happen.

[Footage of Clayton Valli reciting “Dandelion”]

That Valli boy… He really gave us opportunities to learn and acquire a language. If it weren’t for him –I don’ know — but, I’d probably still be practicing oralism. Who knows?

Happy Hours always happen each month.

The purpose of this is to encourage socializing.

I fell in love with the language, and the community.

The Deaf people welcomed me. I feel like at home.

What I really love the most here — my top favorite thing, is the community.

So, that’s the rich history of New Hampshire. I feel it’s the time to step up, and say, “We are here!”

[Footage of Clayton Valli reciting a poem]

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