The annual event was held online for the first time in 26 years
The barriers imposed by community quarantine and social distancing protocols didn’t stop deaf students from promoting awareness and appreciation of deaf identity and culture through its “Festival of Hope: Moving from a Spirit of Hopelessness to a Spirit of Hope.” Hosted by the School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies (SDEAS) of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB), the 26th staging of the annual event held on November 28 is the first time the festival reached out to communities through a digital platform.
“The aim of this year’s theme is to plant a seed of hope in all those who were greatly affected by circumstances brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. It aims to awaken the spirit of the deaf community and become a venue to support each other,” said Ma. Fe Andrea Faustino, coordinator for Leadership and Involvement Program of the DLS-CSB SDEAS Center for Deaf Esteem and Formation.
Highlights of the online edition held on a private Facebook group included a seminar for the hearing, the deaf, and hard of hearing participants to understand and learn more about each other’s lifestyle. Webinars that guide the deaf on how to work with interpreters and how they can adapt and be productive during the pandemic were likewise conducted.
The event provided an opportunity for hearing participants to learn the basics of Filipino Sign Language (FSL) as well as make a new friend through the special online program “Meet and Interact with the Deaf.”
There were also a series of activities including Zoom games and poster making contests.
An online bazaar, currently on the festival’s official Facebook page, promotes the small businesses of the deaf, from savory side dishes and sumptuous desserts and pastries to health and beauty essentials.
Deaf students, FSL learners, and educators also shared a song of hope through the “Sing it with Signs!” event permanently available on view through this link: https://youtube.com/channel/UCpVxa0cx7dGV0mC44w1Yk7w.
“Festival of Hope” wrapped up with a cultural show that revealed the artistic talents of deaf students through a collection of interpreted songs, dance numbers, poetry, and short stories—all to raise funds to support their online learning.