The Syracuse area is home to a large group of Deaf New Americans (a term they prefer to "refugee"), who have resettled there from Bhutan, Nepal, Burma, Somalia, and other countries. Leaders in this community have formed an organization called Deaf New Americans Advocacy Inc (DNA), which seeks to support its members in a range of capacities. For example, the group works to provide vital assistance with linguistic and cultural interpreting to remove communication barriers that many Deaf New Americans face in Upstate New York. https://www.deafnewamerican.org
Many members of DNA come from agricultural communities in their home countries. Once resettled, the loss of appropriate contexts in which to exercise these skills and the loss of access to important staple cooking ingredients was felt acutely by community members. Therefore, in 2022 DNA founded a Deaf-run farm, Asha Laaya (meaning ‘Farm of Hope’), to allow Deaf New Americans to use their farming skills to grow produce from their home countries for home cooking and as a source of income by selling some of the vegetables at local markets. In so doing, they seek to preserve traditional farming practices from their home communities, which are central to many of their social identities, as well as to pass these skills on to their children.
The DNA would love to work with Oberlin volunteers in a range of capacities, many of which can be conducted remotely from campus. Knowledge of American Sign Language is not required. Interested students can meet with Professor Erika Hoffmann-Dilloway in the Anthropology Department, who has a close relationship with the group. Current needs are:
- Assistance creating a brochure to hand out events, explaining the nature of the organization and their goals. This task would require some facility with graphic design and editing of text. Can be done remotely.
- Help planning for a Harvest Dinner fundraising event scheduled for November 17, 2023. Specifically, help setting up an online payment and registration portal for attendees and sponsors. Can be done remotely.
- Help improving their website. This would require some facility with website design. Can be done remotely.
- Remote tutoring for the hearing children of Deaf New Americans as, due to linguistic barriers, their parents are often unable to help them understand homework assignments. Can be done remotely.
- Assistance searching for and applying for grants that can support DNA activities. Can be done remotely.
- Assistance with photography and graphic design for a visual “how to” manual to assist Deaf New American communities in other locations learn from the model of the Asha Laaya farm. Requires travel to Syracuse.
- Volunteer with farm work at Asha Laaya during the busy summer growing season. Requires travel to Syracuse.