Exploring novel aspects of life is not a pressing concern for the average high school student. Instead, college is generally when students are encouraged to branch out and explore other interests. Whether it be dance, sports, photography, or foreign languages, UR offers numerous opportunities that foster such exploration. I myself went through this searching process, and as a result, I found something that has become an integral part of my world and has changed my experience here for the better: I discovered American Sign Language.

This was completely unexpected. Heralding from a small town in rural Pennsylvania, I did not previously feel an urge to learn any sign language. I am Hearing, my entire family is Hearing, and so were all my friends. In fact, I cannot even think of one reason why I would have even needed such a skill. For me, the spoken languages were sufficient in all my interactions. Little did I know that by committing to UR, I would discover a passion for what I had previously deemed trivial.

My transformation story began during Orientation week, a time of excitement as you begin the next phase in your life. All the talks, shows, and competitions are meant to ease you into this change and show you what UR has to offer during your four-year enrollment. During that week, the Diversity Show had the greatest impact on me. Presenting multi-colored, twirling costumes and performer energy, the show blew me away. Captivated, I watched as the UR American Sign Language Club performed their rendition of “Stacy’s Mom.” Both the graceful hand movements and the very idea of communicating without speaking intrigued me. What I saw was so completely unlike anything I had experienced prior, but this newness seemed so right and just left me wanting more.

After Orientation, feeling the need to explore further into this strange new world, I decided to drop in on one of ASL club’s weekly “Silent Coffee” meetings. I knew absolutely no sign language, but my desire to learn more about ASL drove me to attend regardless. By the end of that night’s meeting, I had only learned how to sign the alphabet and a few random phrases. Yet instead of being discouraged by my slow progress, I was excited. I was actually starting to learn ASL. I couldn’t get enough. The next week, and every week after that for the rest of the semester, I made it a point to attend those meetings and learn all I could.

The following semester, my friends at the ASL Club encouraged me to register for an ASL class. I readily signed up. However, the silence present on the first day of class was slightly disconcerting. The professor was deaf and any talking was prohibited — our learning would have to be through complete immersion. Nevertheless, this uneasy feeling soon disappeared as I realized that the silence was not ominous. Instead, if there had been any talking, it would have detracted from the experience, causing us to learn less. Now, I appreciate the silence and the new way of communication it opens. This way of communication to me was something both enjoyable and worth pursuing, so I did so.

ASL is now a vital aspect of my life. Choosing to leave your comfort zone and explore subjects you never thought to explore can be daunting. Still, I know that doing so was one of the best decisions I have ever made here at UR. As a direct result of this exploration, I will be taking the next ASL class and I plan on declaring an ASL minor. None of this would have ever happened if I had stuck with my past interests. Who knows what else I will discover while here? The possibilities are endless. Whatever may come, I look forward to the discovery, and so should you.

Powell is a member of the class of 2016.

The Clothesline Project gives a voice to the unheard

The Clothesline Project was started in 1990 when founder Carol Chichetto hung a clothesline with 31 shirts designed by survivors of domestic abuse, rape, and childhood sexual assault.

Colin’s Review Rundown: Future and Metro Boomin, Lizzy McAlpine, Benson Boone, Civerous

Is it bad? Definitely not! But I found myself continually checking my phone to see how many tracks were left.

UR Baseball beats Hamilton and RIT

Yellowjackets baseball beat Hamilton College on Tuesday and RIT on Friday to the scores of 11–4 and 7–4, respectively.