By Bobbie Beth Scoggins
Originally scheduled for Sunday morning, the closing ceremonies instead took place in the afternoon at the Congress centre. We entered at 4 pm, but it was a while before everyone got settled in for the start of a beautifully orchestrated program.
Our appreciation goes to Steven Surrency and Rafael Trevino (below) who served as sign language interpreters for the USA seating area during all Congress plenary sessions.
I had the pleasure of sitting next to Bob and Donna Davila as well as Bernard Bragg
Nancy Bloch was nearby, with Alan and Vicki Hurwitz.
The program began with WFD Vice President Feliciano Sola Limia of Spain (he also served as president of the 2007 WFD Congress organizing committee) who called on key groups one by one, so that the stage was filled with Congress dignitaries and those involved in planning efforts.
Sola Limia welcomes 2007 WFD Congress organizing committee members and the presidents of the WFD Congress commissions and special interest groups
Jokinen and Kauppinen stride onto the stage, joining old and new WFD Board and Honorary members
On stage groups (including WFD Youth Section board members) engage in a hearty round of applause with the audience, celebrating the success of the Congress
We were treated to an array of photo and video highlights of the Congress, including the pre-Congress Youth Camp and General Assembly, as well as the Congress childrenâ€™s camp and day care program.
The Congress childrenâ€™s camp gave a spectacular performance, directed by Bernard Bragg, based on the story of the Tower of Babel with a distinctive twist â€“ how international sign successfully brings together deaf communities from all over the world.
WFD President Jokinen then presented official Congress resolutions adopted by the Board, based on recommendations made by Congress commissions and special interest groups.
Next was the presentation of WFD international social merit awards in three tiers, with the topmost Grand Cross award going to CNSE (Spanish national association of the deaf), in recognition of their 2007 Congress organizing efforts.
Next, Jokinen welcomed Bernard Bragg and me to the stage, where we formally presented our NAD gift of $25,000 USD to the WFD. This gift, specifically to further WFD human rights efforts, was made possible largely through Bernardâ€™s generosity and the many people across the nation involved in supporting his Theatre in the Sky tour in the USA, designed to benefit both the WFD and the NAD.
Next was the formal handover of the official WFD flag from Spain to South Africa. Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen received the flag, in readiness for the 2011 World Congress of the WFD. The audience was then treated to video highlights with an animated (and signing) lion at the start, welcoming everyone to Durban as the locale for the next Congress.
Closing remarks were then given by WFD President Jokinen and CNSE President Canon, followed by release of balloons and hugs by audience members.
People then milled around, taking photographs of those on stage and at floor level, filled with much euphoria with many committed to the WFD and its human rights efforts. Check out these photosâ€¦.
New WFD Board Members for the 2007-2011 term
2007 WFD Congress commissions and special interest groups with 2004-2007 WFD Board members
2007 WFD Congress International President (technology commission) Jerry Nelson with former WFD General Secretary Carol-lee Aquiline, recipient of 2007 WFD 1st Class International Social Merit Award
NAD President Scoggins with Ryan DiGiovanni, one of three NAD representatives to the WFD Youth Camp
Scoggins with formerÂ NAD President Roz Rosen and Bloch
Scoggins with Melissa Malzkuhn, one of three NAD representatives to the WFD Youth Camp (and one of two delegates to the WFD Youth Assembly and now Secretary of the WFD Youth Section Board for the 2007-2011 term)
By Bobbie Beth Scoggins
The day before the end of the Congress, we ran into Joe Murray and his family at breakfast; his two children are the cutest!
The two Nancys (Andersson and Bloch) worked on one side of the WFD booth in shifts, where we set up two display notebooks showing a glimpse of what our forthcoming WFD History publication would look like. During the Congress week and at the booth, delegates from countries worldwide assisted in reviewing the histories and logos of member countries, providing both Nancys with corrections or updates to take back to author Jack Ganno, who with his wife Rosalyn, is still hard at work on completing the manuscript for publication.
The exhibit area was filled with a constant stream of visitors, who also took in Congress workshops. Several deaf artists had their wares on display for sale.
Melissa Malzkuhn and other members of the newly elected WFD Youth Section board (for the 2007-2011 term) have already been hard at work, laying the groundwork for the next four years. She is shown below with the new WFDYS president, from Venezuela.
In the evening, the Gala got off to a wonderful start â€“ it was held at sports arena across town -with folks dressed up for the occasion. We started with pre-dinner appetizers on the upper level, then went on to the dining area at the main level below. Arena seats were drawn back on both levels, with silver metal walls in the background â€“ a modern-looking twist on a sports arena being used for a banquet venue. The entertainment portion of the eveningâ€™s program included flamenco dancers, very captivating (and hard to capture on camera). Check out the photos belowâ€¦
Yerker Andersson with Bobbie Beth and Jim Scoggins
Linda Raymond of Las Vegas with Marilyn Smith of Seattle
Knud and Barbara Sondergaard, of Denmark
Gary Malkowski of Canada with Roli Hermann and Patty Shores Hermann of Switzerland
Toasting to the future of the WFD
Bruno Druchen of South Africa and Feliciano Sola Limia of Spain
WFD President Markku Jokinen providing inspirational remarks
Deaf rap musicians from Europe (wildly popular!)
Folks dancing to rap music
Nancy and Yerker Andersson, greeting folks as they board bus for return to hotel
Kubby Rashid and Isaac Agboola from Maryland, all smiles
Thursday, July 19, 2007
We started our fourth day of the WFD Congress attending several plenary presentations with a theme on â€œDeveloping Countriesâ€. One presenter stood out from the rest - Kathleen Vercuysse, a Gallaudet alumna hailing from Brussels, Belgium. Since attending Gallaudet in 2005, she returned to Belgium and established a youth exchange program between deaf Belgians from the age of 16 to 30 and deaf individuals from Burkina Faso. The deaf Belgians raised funds to travel to Burkina Faso for two weeks where they participated in different projects, ranging from simply interaction with children to helping repair buildings, particularly the deaf association or deaf club. Her presentation included video clips from the youth exchange and explained how she procured funding for the program while expanding on the unique cultural experience for both sides. It was definitely an awakening in awareness and sensitivity of what developing countries are going through. We were moved when Kathleen shared that when the Belgians first arrived in Burkina Faso, they were greeted with much shock. â€œCan a white person be deaf?â€, they were asked. As it turned out, most deaf children in Burkina Faso always thought all deaf people were black as they never met a white deaf person before. Kathleenâ€™s presentation made us wonder whether the deaf youth in America could accomplish a project like this, to acquire funding and make new friends through this learning exchange.
The USA WFD Youth Camp participants with Kathleen from Belgium!
We were fortunate to spend lunch together for once at the WFD Congress and we had multicultural diversity at our table with a true character from Rwanda, who is 27 and the President of his Deaf association. We were also startled to find that his friend is the President of his Deaf Association in Uganda and he is only 25. This made us wonder if anyone could imagine someone at the age of twenty five being the president of the NAD? We asked many questions and walked away awestruck with the cultural knowledge of the small Deaf communities in Africa. We are very ecstatic to have the next WFD Congress in South Africa, where we will for sure get to see more individuals from Africa having a chance to attend.
Lunch with Uganda, Rwanda, and Canada participants of the World Congress!
In closing, this blog would not an honest story of our experiences if we left out some details on the Madrid nightlife scene. The nightlife here in Madrid has been completely taken over by the international Deaf community! At every corner, it seems, youâ€™ll find clusters of deaf people, often hogging the lamppost, or lights from a venue, signing away! Itâ€™s fun to try to figure out which sign language theyâ€™re talking in, or where theyâ€™re from. The night actually starts past 11pm, which is when the Spanish people finish their dinner, and start drinking the night away till the sun comes up! There are seemingly hundreds and hundreds of bars, taverns, cafes, restaurants, and clubs tucked away in the innards of the narrow streets in Madrid! This is paradise and temptation as well for the Deaf Youth community! We recommend the Sangria, giving you the much needed relaxation and the â€œoomphâ€ to balance out the bustling nightlife of this city!
Partying it Madrid style â€“ at a Sangria bar in International Sign!
Friday, July 20, 2007
This morning began with our daily 45 minutes trek via Madridâ€™s always bustling metro system that takes us from the heart of Madrid to the northeastern part of Madrid where IFEMA, where the WFD Congress is located. We chose to stay in the soul of Madrid at a hostel near â€œSolâ€ district where the worldâ€™s youth meet, eat, shop, and party.
The Congress kicked off with two plenary sessions about women, which is a commission for the first time ever. There are many countries that struggle mightily with the equality of women to men. We took off in different paths as Melissa went to another WFD Youth Section Board Meeting to explore how they can better recruit youth from developing countries. We are proud of what the new WFD Youth Section Board is doing thus far.
The future of WFDYS!
Ryan and Manny went to three presentations about CODA as we felt this was an area where we could spend more time understanding the life of CODAs. We were floored on how packed the auditorium was for the three CODA presentations with approximately 350 people compared to the usual 50-150 for workshops. It made us realize how important CODAs are to our culture and see a need to find a way to better include them into our culture.
Each day ended with one of the nightly activities with the youth. There was a rousing performance by SignMark from Finland, who performed rap with his own lyrics that showed his profound respect for Deaf heritage and the struggles we go through to change the perceptions of the Deaf.
SignMark & the captivated audience
Farewell from Spain - The Three Muskateers!
Wednesday July 11, 2007 â€“ Written by Melissa Malzkuhn
As Wednesday swung around, the day found us all much more adept and comfortable with international sign that we were caught more than once, unthinkingly communicating with each other in international sign as well!
The main event of the day was a forum, in which we all split up (106 of us) into 12 different groups. The question posed to us was â€œWhat does Deaf Youth need?â€ We were then to determine what is needed and how to meet the needs of Deaf youth around the world. We were grouped up randomly, and I found myself in a group with all women (coincidence!), from Argentina, Estonia, Hungary, Brazil, and Austria, respectably. We then got to work, scribbling in our thoughts, before we decided who would be giving a presentation. To spice things up, we had a small drama, then the Estonian participant took the stage with me and the Brazilian taking turns to fill in with other points.
The other groups took their turns too, and our little five minute presentation limit each, stretched out to one hour with each of us listening into our thoughts on â€œthe need of Deaf youth.â€ Interestingly enough â€“ and none too surprising â€“ all of our concerns centered on sign language in schools, along with isolation of deaf children without any models of deaf adults to teach and pass on culture to them. Even though we all came from different parts of the world, from stretches of seven continents, across four great oceans, from cultures to cultures, we all still could identify with one single same resounding theme: the need for sign language. This strongly ricochets with the WFD Congressâ€™ theme, â€œHuman Rights Through Sign Language.â€
After our forum, the camp organizers treated us to a pool outing, where we all frolicked by an ice-cold pool, took photos, and simply talked, talked, and talked. By almost nightfall, we were whisked back to the camp where we had yet, another huge Spanish styled dinner, accompanied with a bottle of Spanish red wine and to be followed by their specialty desserts, the Flan (which at most, is a custard with a caramel coating), and it deserves to be mentioned for its high culinary tastes!
Thursday July 12, 2007 â€“ Written by Ryan DiGiovanni
A very sore and tired Ryan, instead of running his usual 6-8 miles, overslept and missed breakfast, the same could be said for Manny. They both quickly realized the error of their ways at lunch time when their meals were not brought out until the end of meal service. However before lunch the Leaders split everyone up into groups for a cultural play.
North and South Americas Unite
Ryan signing “Sign Language Hand Implant”
Everyone had a blast and we got some cheap laughs but the experience was very enriching!
Friday July 13, 2007 â€“ Written by Manny Johnson
Around 7am, Ryan and Manny along with 14 individuals who got no sleep at all trekked towards the mountains to see the sun spread its sunshine over the mountains. We ended up in a hay field that allowed us to enjoy the sun to its fullest as well as play various jumping games as the haystacks absorbed all of our falls.
Sunrise over San Rafael
Sunrise over San Rafael
It was not without peril as many people got stung by the strong hay needles and had marks on our legs. The bigger marks were made on our memories as we breathe in all the moments of the past week as this was our last day.
The morning was bittersweet as all of us packed our bags slowly and solemnly as we were not ready to leave. We had one final session that focused on the information sharing that we had that week and submitted our feedback on the camp. We had one final group activity that we all cherished, where we all got into one enormous circle, actually it was more oval and one by one person would leave the circle to hug everyone in the circle in order. It was a heartwarming and eye-opening experience as we got to experience each cultureâ€™s way of expressing their good-byes and to once remind all of us how much we are alike. We deliberately took our time to get our bags and get on the bus for our departure to Madrid. Upon our arrival in Madrid, 90% of us went in various directions to our hotels, flats (apartments), hostels, et al while the remaining 10% flew home or to other countries. We, the Americans, went to a hotel near the center of Madrid and took one of the best naps ever! Mez and Manny woke up and went out to experience the nightlife of Madrid and it was exciting and enriching to meet more people from all over the world.
KM Zero at Plaza de Sol (Downtown)
Saturday & Sunday July 14-15, 2007 â€“ Written by Melissa Malzkuhn
Saturday came as one of the most rotten days for us â€“ camp was over. We felt the lack of sleep, the excitement, the thoughts â€“ all of them catching up on us, leaving us thoroughly exhausted and in a bit of a moping mood as we recollected our thoughts and mostly reeled in utter amazement that we had this grand experience. We spent Saturday reorganizing our lives â€“ which meant, doing mundane stuff, like the laundry, checking the internet, and so on. Some bit of Saturday night, although, we managed to see how dazzling Madrid is, its nightlife, which seems to be a constant energy surge! Retreating early, however, we prepared for a good nightâ€™s rest for the WFD Youth Assembly workshop, required for all delegates to attend to prepare for the General Assembly on the 16th of July.
The workshop took place at the Spain Deaf Association, where they had a small workshop room, and we spent nearly all day till the afternoon reviewing WFDYS meeting minutes, action plans, and the internal rules of the WFDYS, while throwing hurdles of questions to prepare motions for the General Assembly.
We ended it in a timely manner, with just enough time to go over to the World Congress site to observe the actual WFD General Assembly where we saw NAD doing their part, with Nancy Bloch and Bobbie Beth Scoggins at the helm, listening intently to the agenda.
Naturally, the most exciting part was watching the bid contest between South Africa and Turkey for the next World Congress site, of 2011. The majority of the observers felt it would be a close tie, as both gave good presentations and both countries had loads of sightseeing and photo opportunities to provide, but as the election results unfolded, we were jubilant and happy to see South Africa triumph in this, with 62 votes (as compared to 19 gathered by Turkey). So, itâ€™s South Africa for World Congress 2011!
Note: The NAD appointed three youth representatives â€“ Ryan DiGiovanni, James â€œMannyâ€ Johnson, and Melissa Malzkuhn to participate in the 4th WFD Youth Camp held July 5-12, 2007 in Segovia, Spain. Upon completion of the camp, the three are attending the World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf. Below is their blog.
Friday July 6, 2007 - Written by Ryan DiGiovanni
â€œThree Thousand & Changeâ€
â€œWhen thereâ€™s a wayâ€¦thereâ€™s a willâ€. The enumeration of hard work over the months have come to fruition as we make the final approach into Madrid, overlooking the beautiful rustic countryside of Espana. Each of us making our own footprints separately, Melissa backpacking around Europe since June. Manny flew in hours before the scheduled bus journey from the Madrid Barajas Aero Puerto to El Espinar, making a connection in Amsterdam, Nederland he met a fellow camper from Sweden named Niklas. Ryan flew in on the 5th to socialize with the savvy Australians and New Zealanders with a cultural lesson in mind.
Orientation at the Camp
Leaving the warm sunshine state of Florida on a beautiful summer day was a hard thing to do but it was time for Ryan to leave his own world and embark on a journey to another. Being in love, getting married a week before the WFD Youth Camp, making a 12 hour Transatlantic flight from Los Angeles to Amsterdam is no feat. Thatâ€™s Manny Johnson for you. Hailing from California, Manny has been involved in Youth Programs in America. Melissa â€œMezâ€ carries with her a cornucopia of cultural experience with her worldly travels from Auckland to Stockholm to Barcelona.
Opening Camp Ceremony
Saturday July 7, 2007 - Written by Manny Johnson
The first full day of camp began with a warming breakfast that brought out peopleâ€™s personalities a little more than the night before. The morning was filled with luminaries involved with WFD and Congress. We embraced Markku Jokinenâ€™s presentation about the Deaf Associative Movement.
WFD President Markku Jokinen addresses the Youth
Then Mr. Feliciano Sola Limia spoke about the benefits of attending the WFD Congress and how proud he was able to allow all camp participants attend the Congress at no charge. We are all fortunate to get this opportunity to attend a Congress full of the worldâ€™s leaders and learn of their methodology in their respective countries.
Lunch brought out some discussions about the Deaf Associative Movement as well as what the schedule would be like at the Congress. Afternoon brought various activities and games that showed us all each personâ€™s name, sign name, and country sign. We have to tell you that our brains were so overloaded that it made it impossible to remember more than just a few.
Lunch at the Cafeteria
We had the week ahead to remember more. Dinner was more lively as people got more curious about the origin of their name signs and country signs. The sun did not set until about 10:30pm and due to the newness of everything and 41 countries being there, we did not go to bed until about 3-4 am.
Campers Gone Wild
Sunday July 8, 2007 â€“ Written by Melissa Malzkuhn
The first two days slipped by quickly, as we progressed from simple name-introductions to deeper and meaningful conversations, ranging from anecdotes to life conditions of deaf youth. On the third day, we had a chance to exchange information through giving presentations. Altogether nine different countries had an opportunity to present: Mongolia, Germany, Sweden and Finland, Italy, Malta, Argentina, Japan and USA.
Germanyâ€™s Presentation on their Deaf Youth
The majority of the presentations centered on the functioning and operations of deaf youth associations. Japan was outstanding with their visual media, where they broke from the pack and talked of todayâ€™s problems facing deaf Japanese: the decline of deaf schools, isolation in the workplace, and overall daily oppression deaf people face on their abilities. Japan ended their presentation with a quite impromptu little dance, which had all of us cheering.
Mongolia stood out too, by a feverously energetic Mongolian, Bassandorj Davaanyam, who is a leading activist for their deaf youth association. He described in eloquent detail on how they established their association, found a way to continue funding by having deaf youths work on various types of art, where they would sell for a sustainable amount of money, and reap a small margin of profit to keep funding the association costs. It was compelling as they showed pictures of Mongolian art, ranging from traditional carvings to more edgier and abstractive paintings.
For USA, I gave a presentation titled â€œGallaudet Protest & Politicsâ€ where I pretty much summarized the problems and the reasons why we protested in the first place. Gallaudet, itself, didnâ€™t need to be explained as the entire camp already knew about it, and around half of them followed the protests with curiosity but most of them still found themselves muddling through vague information. I explained the timeline, search process, and the exact reasons why and how the protest grew tremendously and got the worldâ€™s attention.
In wrapping up my presentation, I showed them the film, â€œTaraâ€™s Storyâ€ which was well received, and after the presentation a quite number of camp participants from all around the world (India, Slovakia, Poland, Malaysia, to name a few), came up to me and shared personal comments. Most of them found themselves inspired that a young person, someone like Tara Holcomb, had the guts and courage to stand up to someone in a high position and speak her mind on what is right. They shared their own frustrations with their own countries and wish they could tap into the courage and the passion that we had with us during the Gallaudet protests, which made me realize a few things. Youth activism is a very powerful tool, because we would take bold and drastic steps to get the changes we need very much.
Summing this day up, after our presentations and exchange of information, we once again faced the stark reality of deaf youth in the world: there are much needed changes to be made. And we must act now. Itâ€™s today, not tomorrow that you should try to aim for a difference.
Florijan from Albania introducing his country
Monday July 9, 2007 â€“ Written by Ryan DiGiovanni
As usual Ryan got up at 7:10 in the morning for his twelve km jog (the American equivalent of eight miles) to see the quaint town of San Rafael and the sunrise in the Espana countryside. On his trek, he ran from the Camp to the foothills of the surrounding â€œmontanaâ€ (Spanish for Mountain) and back to the camp in time for breakfast. Manny and Mez awoke with excitement for the dayâ€™s plans ahead of them, for the camp was making an excursion to Segovia to sightsee and partake in the cultural aspects of a Romania Castellan town.
We had a unique opportunity on our trek around Segovia to capture the essence of a quaint countryside town with Romanian roots. Ryan procured some souvenirs for his family at the end of the day, Manny took tons of pictures. We returned to the camp for dinner then we had another cultural activity where we danced to the tune of the Campâ€™s mantra.
Tuesday July 10, 2007 â€“ Written by Manny Johnson
The day began with Robertoâ€™s presentation about Spanish Deaf Youth Associationâ€¦ more detailsâ€¦ We ate a quick lunch before loading on the two buses to head over to team-building out in the back country of Segovia. We joined our eight respective groups that were divided up on the first day of camp and created group names for the competition. Mannyâ€™s group went with â€œMama Miaâ€
Mama Mia Group
Ryanâ€™s group came up with â€œDeaf SWATâ€, and Mezâ€™s somehow named their group â€œScreamanos.â€
The activities were awesome as we did the Bungee Cord Run, Archery, Web Challenge, Minefield, Water Race, Stilt Race, Human-Sized Foosball, ATV (4-Wheeling) Race, Water Balloon Fight, and more.
For each activity, the workers would score us on how well we did the challenge and the points would be included in our final tally for the week to see which of the eight groups worked the best together. There were many serious participants including us that were there to win and learn about how to communicate and think over various cultures, backgrounds, and language, which made the competition even more difficult and yet rewarding. About five hours later, our exhausted groups went back to camp to refresh with a late dinner and chilling out at the bar/relaxation room in the compound that we were staying at.
18 July 2007
By Bobbie Beth Scoggins
A bit of follow up to yesterdayâ€™s blog is in orderâ€¦
We are grateful to Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD) for their support, which enabled us to send three youth representatives to the WFD Youth Camp as well as the Congress.
They are already busy networking with the huge number of youth here. Yesterdayâ€™s WFD Youth Assembly was so packed that observers had to be turned away!
Ryan, Manny and Mez are already filled with many ideas for current and future NAD youth programs and activities; we look forward to their being involved in our forthcoming Youth Initiatives Task Force once the summer is over.
Sandra Lennon, an enthusiastic Congress attendee from the USA
Nancy and I also had the opportunity to catch up with former WFD General Secretary Carol Lee Aquiline with her young son Aedan; she was at the Congress to provide support Commissions and SIGs in their reporting efforts.
Scoggins catches up with Aquiline
Yesterday we were delighted to catch up with Cheryl Moose who is incoming president of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf; we look forward to continuance of joint NAD-RID endeavors during her new term, starting this August. Judith Gilliam will be our official representative at the upcoming RID Conference in San Francisco.
We want to express our gratitude to the University of South Florida (USF) and the Florida Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (FRID), for their support of Steven Surrency and Rafael Trevino, our official NAD interpreters for Congress plenary sessions. We also greatly appreciate their being with us!
Moose, Trevino, Scoggins and Surrency are all smiles!
I donâ€™t know how many interpreters there are from individual countries, but I can say there are a LOT of them, in addition to official Congress interpreters (Spanish sign and International sign). Check out the photo below; the plenary auditorium is divided into sections for individual countries, which aid in placement of interpreters and sight line ease (countries sit in the same area during every plenary session).
How many sign language interpreters do you see in the audience?
We forgot to include one more photo from the performance during Opening Ceremonies; lots of symbolism here!
Now, onward to our second day of the Congress, which began with an awesome keynote by Don Mackay, New Zealand Ambassador to the United Nations. He gave an inspirational presentation on â€œRemoving Barriers: The New United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.â€
Scoggins with Murray Holmes of Scotland, Armando Giuranna of Italy, and Yerker Andersson during break
The first plenary presentation entitled â€œLinguistic Rights and Culture: Without Sign Language there are no Human Rightsâ€ was provided by our very own Yerker Andersson jointly with Kim Robinson of New Zealand, who gave thought provoking data on countries adopting sign languages. The WFD calculates that over forty countries have officially acknowledged the use of Sign Languages. This number, however, is still low if we take into account the fact that 150 countries have still not recognized its status. Such recognition will strengthen conservation of the Deaf culture and this, along with recognition of sign languages will lead us towards guaranteeing human rights for the global deaf community.
Next was an equally rousing and inspiring plenary presentation, â€œCultural Rights and Sign Language Peoplesâ€ by Paddy Ladd of the United. His presentation focused on deaf communities starting to fight for their linguistic rights, and the fact there has been very little consideration of whether they have cultural rights. He also examined the battles initiated by other minority cultures to achieve recognition and ownership of their cultural rights, with mention of UNESCO Convention of the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions as an example of how we as a group can be empowered as a cultural minority.
I also had the opportunity to catch up with outgoing WFD Board Member Len Mitchell of Canada.
Scoggins and Mitchell discuss North America matters of mutual interest
The rest of the day was devoted to presentation of papers for the above and two other commissions. We also visited the exhibit area and chatted with NAD Board Region III Member Lissette Molina, who is in town for a few days.
Californians Hank and Bunny Klopping, Roz Rosen, and Bernard Bragg
Marylanders Nancy Bloch, Bob and Sue Mather, Carolyn McCaskill, and Jerry Nelson
17 July 2007
By Bobbie Beth Scoggins
Yesterday we got up very early to pick up our registration packets prior to the Opening Ceremonies of the 15th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf. After our our daily ritual of Spanish coffee and croissants, it was wonderful running into so many American friends and supporters.
Harold Mowl, superintendent of Rochester School for the Deaf with his wife, Mary, and Alan Hurwitz, vice president of National Technical Institute for the Deaf with his wife, Vicki
Bob Davila, president of Gallaudet University with his wife, Donna
We also met up with our three NAD youth representatives to the WFD Youth Camp (two of which are delegates to the WFD Youth Section General Assembly â€“ a truly dynamic trio!
Scoggins with Ryan DiGiovanni, James â€œMannyâ€ Johnson, and Melissa Malzkuhn
Upon entering the area leading to the site of the Opening Ceremonies, we were treated with a visual feast of artists throughout â€“ ranging from fairy-like princesses walking on stilts to a variety of performers in garb similar to that of Cirque du Soliel, bicycles dressed up like animals, colorful clowns, to a moon-like illusion blowing balloons constantly.
Scoggins on a mule bicycle with performer hamming it up for the camera
We then entered the huge room where the Opening Ceremonies were held, with attendees seated by country. It was eventually filled to capacity, with over 2,000 in attendance.
Opening Ceremonies welcoming display for the 15th World Congress of the WFD
After a lengthy wait for the festivities to begin, WFD President Markku Jokinen and WFD Vice President Feliciano Sola Limia (also president of the Congress Organizing Committee) gave welcoming remarks, with introduction of Spanish dignitaries â€“ Maria Fernandez de la Vega, vice president of the Spanish government â€“ who provided testimonials on how the advancement of human rights through sign languages are important to the Spanish community and worldwide.
Then we were treated to the spectacular Els Comediants, a well-known troupe who has performed all over Europe. For this special appearance, they worked closely with El Grito, an equally awesome Spanish deaf theatre company, to prepare a strongly visual opening show featuring both deaf and hearing performers. And what a visual feast it was, with planet-like balloons all over the assembly room! Their imagery, creativity, and artistry gave tribute to our world deaf community, its history and our long fight for human rights through sign languages â€“ truly inspiring.
We walked out filled with much inspiration to continue our advocacy work on a global scale. There was a cocktail reception at the IFEMA where we met and mingled with other WFD Congress attendees. We also met again with Ryan, Manny and Melissa to exchange stories and experiences of the 4th WFD Youth Camp. They will be blogging on their experiences in next day or two on their camp experiences, please watch out for this. Melissa and Manny served as our official delegates to the WFD Youth Assembly where delegates from 42 countries elected new WFD Youth Section officers for 2007-2011. In addition to the election of new officers, the internal rules and the strategic plan for WFD Youth Section for 2007-2011 were modified and approved.
Manny and Mez are all smiles for the camera!
Election results are as follows:
President: Juan Angel de Gourein, Venezuela National Association of the Deaf
Vice President: Lars Knudsen, Denmark National Association of the Deaf
Secretary: Melissa Malzkuhn, National Association of the Deaf/USA (Congratulations, Mez!)
Juliette Dalle, France National Association of the Deaf
Daniel Greenwood, New Zealand National Association of the Deaf
Hee Kyung Cho, South Korea National Association of the Deaf
Roberto Suarez Martin, Spain National Association of the Deaf
WFD Youth Section Board 2007-2011
Indeed, a LONG day and it is 6 pm now. After four straight days of nonstop pace, we are now winding down to get a well-deserved night’s sleep.
Another day tomorrow, adios!
July 16, 2007
By Bobbie Beth Scoggins
Yet another wonderful and productive day it has been! After morning fortification, we began the last day of our General Assembly meeting (upon completion of roll call, with representation by roughly the same number of countries). President Jokinen then went over the agenda for the day.
Jokinen leading the General Assembly meeting
Delegates reviewed proposed changes to the WFD statutes (equivalent to our bylaws). There was a bit of high drama among delegates regarding changing of the legal seat of the WFD from Italy (it has been in Rome since establishment in 1951) to Finland. Delegates approved this legal seat change, among several relevant proposals from member countries (the USA included). Additional changes to the statutes were approved as a whole by delegates, with final tweaking to be done by the Board.
Scoggins casts vote on behalf of the USA
After a 2 pm lunch break, delegates returned to a very crowded meeting room with observers lining the walls. Folks were eagerly anticipating delegate votes on the next Congress location and Board officers/members for the new term (2007-2011). A little bird flying around even captured everyoneâ€™s attention while President Jokinen worked to ensure the attention of delegates on matters at hand.
Delegates casting â€œayeâ€ votes with green cards
Delegates also reviewed two documents - WFD Human Rights through Sign Languages: Vision 2020 and 2015, and the WFD Action Plan 2007-2011. One key aspect is the new International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as a primary objective â€“ with involvement of OMs in training, ratification, and implementation.
The Convention has been ratified by nearly 100 countries worldwide, and we at the NAD continue to work with other disability groups to pressure our government to become a signatory (they have not done so due in part to prevailing perceptions that our Americans with Disabilities Act is stronger).
During break, we had the opportunity to catch up with Thuan Nguyen, who is at the Congress to give a workshop presentation (Thuan is one of two NAD Board Appointed Members).
All smiles by Bloch, Scoggins, Nguyen and Andersson
When we were back in session, President Jokinen welcomed Liz Scott Gibson, president of the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI) to the stage, who spoke on development of the WFD-WASLI joint statement. Both presidents then affixed their official signatures the statement, a historic moment.
Jokinen and Gibson signing joint WFD-WASLI statement
Video presentations were given by South Africa (including a signing animated lion!) and Turkey, both countries competing for 2011 World Congress selection. Delegates overwhelmingly chose Durban, South Africa as the next locale.
Scoggins and Andersson with Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen and Bruno Druchen of the Deaf Federation of South Africa
Former WFD President Yerker Andersson (also NAD Board Region I Representative) conducted the elections process for the new WFD Board 2007-2011. OMs are expected to commit Board meeting travel financial support for their Board nominees, if elected.
Andersson introduces candidates for WFD Board 2007-2011
Election results were as follows:
President: Markku Jokinen, Finnish Association of the Deaf (re-elected)
Vice President: Feliciano Sola Limia, Spanish National Confederation of the Deaf (re-elected)
Colin Allen, Australian Association of the Deaf (re-elected)
Deborah Oyuu Iyute, Ugandan National Association of the Deaf (new)
Bikash Dangol, Nepal National Federation of the Deaf (new)
Johan Wesemann, Dovenschap/the Netherlands (new)
Hanne B. Kvitvaer, Norwegian Association of the Deaf (re-elected)
Valery Rukhledev, All-Russia Society of the Deaf (re-elected)
Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen, Deaf Federation of South Africa (new)
Tomas Hedberg, Swedish National Association of the Deaf (re-elected)
Joseph Murray, National Association of the Deaf/USA (re-elected)
The WFD Vittoro Ieralla Award (in honor of the first president of the WFD, from Italy) was presented by Italian National Association of the Deaf delegates to the president of the Finland Association of the Deaf, in recognition of the lengthy and significant support they have given to the WFD.
Ieralla award recipient flanked by Italian presenters
President Jokinen in his closing remarks included thanks to all involved in the success of the WFD and this weekâ€™s Congress â€“ Board members and staff (Vice President Feliciano Sola Limia in particular), the Spain organizing committee, volunteers, OMs, and others.
A good many delegates lined up to present OM gifts to the WFD. On behalf of the NAD, I announced that the NAD would present a significant financial gift during the Congress closing ceremonies, made possible in part by the generosity of Bernard Bragg (see www.nad.org/bragg).
Nancy and I then distributed NAD-engraved pen, pencil and letter opener sets to individual Board members (both outgoing and incoming), WFD staff, and key dignitaries.
Scoggins, Jokinen, Sola Limia with Luis Canon Reguera, president of the Spanish National Association of the Deaf
We were next treated to a champagne reception, with delegates toasting to President Jokinen and clinking glasses with those around us in solidarity to further human rights through sign languages worldwide.
Stay tuned for the next blog, outlining Congress opening day events.
July 15, 2007
By Bobbie Beth Scoggins
Buenas Dias (Good Morning) from Madrid!
After wonderful Spanish coffee with warm milk with some breakfast fuel, Nancy and I were off to a good start yesterday morning at the 17th General Assembly of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD). It has officially started!
WFD President Markku Jokinen called the General Assembly to order. Welcoming remarks from Madrid dignitaries were inspiring, particularly one that focused on the primacy of sign languages worldwide. A roll call of Ordinary Members (OM) showed that there were delegates from 75 countries (out of 128 which hold official Ordinary Member status). The face of World Federation of the Deaf is diverse!
WFD President Markku Jokinen welcomes delegates to the 17th General Assembly
Delegates at the General Assembly
Delegates at the General Assembly
President Jokinen explained the General Assembly process for the next two days, with delegate approval of the proposed agenda. Knud Sondergaard, WFD administrative officer, took on duties of recordation of the minutes for this meeting.
WFD Administrative Officer Knud Sondergaard records minutes of the General Assembly
Official minutes of 16th General Assembly of the WFD (held 2003 in Montreal, Canada) were approved, with review of Board progress on motions since then. The WFD Board also reported on its activities to promote human rights and sign language recognition around the globe during the last four years, organizational operations and the fiscal management. Kobus Kellerman, WFD Board member and chair of the Finance Committee reported that as of now, the WFD has a small amount of surplus funds and is on its way to working on becoming a more sound and fiscally responsible organization. This is also made possible by a Board Organizational Review Committee (explained by Joe Murray, WFD Board member) and a solid management plan of action to foster sustainability and growth for the next several years.
WFD Board Member Kobus Kellerman gives four year financial update on the WFD
WFD Board Member Joe Murray updates delegates on the Organizational Review process
Delegates reviewed proposed motions for the next four years made by several OMs (including the NAD/USA), some for incorporation into the newly revised statutes (equivalent of our bylaws). Many of these motions passed with overwhelming votes of support.
South Africa (Durban) is vying with Turkey (Istanbul) in their bid to host the 16th World Congress of the WFD in 2011; OMs will cast their vote tomorrow.
Representatives in colorful tribal attire compete for South Africa to host the 2011 WFD Congress
Representatives including one with a multi-colored outfit compete for Turkey to host the 2011 WFD Congress
Nancy and I have had no rest even during lunch and morning/afternoon breaks, because we have been busy verifying OM logos for our upcoming publication, World Federation of the Deaf: A History (authored by Jack Gannon), and working to obtain missing information from individual countries.
Front cover for forthcoming NAD publication on the history of the WFD, authored by Jack Gannon
This covers it for now; I will be back with you again, either tonight or tomorrow morning!
July 13, 2007
By Bobbie Beth Scoggins
Greetings from Madrid!
After recovering from a day of disorientation and dealing with the after effects of jet lag, I took an opportunity to observe the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) board meeting at the CNSE building (similar to the NAD Headquarters). To my surprise, getting around Madrid via their transit system was easy. It is indeed a humbling experience to be sitting in a room of individuals with common goals and a COMMON agenda to fight for human rights through the use of our sign languages.
Bobbie Beth at the IFEMA centre, where the Congress is being held
This morning, we began the day at the WFD General Assembly workshop (at the IFEMA Convention Centre), for orientation to become familiar with proposed WFD statutes and efforts for Deaf Human Rights, in parallel with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in regard to sign languages and human rights. The central idea is non-discrimination and equal treatment for everyone in all spheres of life. The WFD was represented at all UN meetings to date and urged countries to get their governments on board with regard to human rights under this Convention.
With Joe Murray, WFD Board member from the USA
Shaking hands with Joe Murray in front of Congress banner
The networking and meeting of all Ordinary Members (as recognized country affiliates are called) has begun. Nancy Bloch, NAD CEO, is here with me - we are the two official USA delegates. More information will be shared with you with additional pictures to give you a general idea on what we are doing.
With Nancy Bloch, NAD CEO and Yerker Andersson, NAD Board member and former WFD president