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The summer I learned sign language

When I was 16, I learned American Sign Language from a deaf guy named Larry, who was then a student at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde. We were in Ozamiz, holding summer workshops at ICC-La Salle.

It's still one of my best summers, for many reasons, one of which involves a ghost encounter!

Larry wasn't supposed to teach ASL, but he volunteered to teach us. We finished all 12 modules, and I was amazed at how, as Larry taught us his language, he became more and more colorful in my eyes. He was a wonderful teacher, strict and funny and a little naughty when we were more fluent.

I found learning the signs easy, but I struggled with interpreting them in conversation, so after that summer, I forgot pretty much everything, except the name he gave me: the letter D, for my nickname Dat, dotting both my chubby cheeks.

Actually, he gave me two names: the letter D moving down in waves for my curly hair or the letter D on my cheeks. He smiled when we settled on cheeks, and I was just relieved he wasn't referring to my pimples!

I saw Larry in CSB last year, but he didn't see me. I wanted to say hi or hello (I still know how to sign that!), but I hesitated and the hesitation won.

Might as well, I told myself as I walked away. How on earth could I ask him if he remembered me, and if he didn't, how on earth could I tell him how he once spent several days in Ozamiz, silently changing how I saw the world?

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