Gallaudet University invited key Nigerian stakeholders, such as representatives of ministries, departments and agencies, foundations, private companies, and other leaders to pay a working visit to Gallaudet’s campus in Washington DC October 28-30, 2019. We asked stakeholders to send representatives with the authority in the MDAs. We also requested that they be hearing representatives because the goal of the site visit is to raise awareness for those who do not yet understand the Deaf community’s needs and garner allies. This three-day program was designed to give visitors an opportunity to learn about the pedagogies, facilities, and culture that enhance Gallaudet’s education for Deaf, DeafBlind, and hard of hearing students and garner their support of GAIN. As we have seen first hand – we can describe Gallaudet all day long, but it isn’t until someone visits that they truly get it – Seeing is Believing.
However, H.E. President Muhammadu Buhari recently gave a presidential order that restricted all foreign travels by government officials to ensure the timely passage of the 2020 Appropriation Bill and this unfortunately impacted our plans. For this reason the scheduled October 28-30, 2019 visit of the Nigerian stakeholders was postponed and rescheduled for February 5-7, 2020.
Also to be hosted at Gallaudet earlier in the month of October was the Surviving Change Through Interconnection: African Deaf Ecologies in Transition (SCTI.ADET2) Symposium. Originally scheduled October 6-8, 2019 it was postponed for different reasons and rescheduled for May 17 – 20, 2020.
The Nigerian National Association of the Deaf (NNAD) Vice President Mohammed Adelani and Women’s Leader Charity James are the NNAD GAIN Steering Committee members and members of the SCTI.ADET2 symposium planning committee and came to Gallaudet to assist with both the symposium and the Nigerian stakeholders visit. Additionally, NNAD selected ASLIN President Timothy Tinat and member Deborah Dangana to accompany them to interpret alongside the Gallaudet interpreting team and provide access for all participants.
Travel plans for Adelani, James, Tinat, and Dangana were already confirmed prior to either events’ postponement and were actually on campus when the Nigeiran stakeholders’ visit was postponed. October 14-November 1, 2019 they continued to support GAIN and SCTI and participated in weekly planning committee meetings and in observations and learning opportunities on the following topics/activities:
– Dynamics of Oppression
– Bilingual Learning and Pedagogies
– ASL Linguistics
– Organizational Leadership
– Working with Deaf Interpreters
– Interpreting with DeafBlind
– Interpreter education and assessment
– Educators working with Deaf Children
– GU’s Board of Trustees business meeting
– GU’s Battle of the Books and Academic Bowl
– DC Mayor’s National Disability Employment Awareness
– Gallaudet Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute BISONTANK competition
– National Association of the Deaf
– Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2) Lab brain research
– Police working with Deaf communities
Upon returning to Nigeria, Adelani, James, Tinat, and Dangana will file their report on the trip and develop a learning opportunity to share knowledge learned with the Deaf and interpreting community through NNAD. The goal for conducting this learning opportunity is 4-5 months but fundraising needs and other scheduled events will be taken into account.
Gallaudet team in Nigeria Updates:
June/July Trip –
GAIN supported BCELI with women’s training in Abuja
Held Thought Leaders meeting in Abuja and Lagos with Deaf leaders including representatives from different zones, NNAD, GUAA, (OTHER?)
Fundraising and advocacy
September Trip –
Personally invited key government officials to GU’s campus “seeing is believing”
Continue fundraising and advocacy
Met with African Development Bank – provided support on how to access their funds through different avenues.
Met with NCC to discuss how they can support their Deaf consumers
Last minute ability to visit Jos thanks to GAIN Champion Mrs. Odusote providing her car, driver, and Nigerian police officer for security.
Community members have expressed frustration that meetings are in Abuja or further south in Lagos. The reality is that the US government restricts our movement North and Abuja is where the government officials are so that has been our main focus.
Discussion of Sagamu location with GU, NNAD, WesleyUNI representatives:
Proximity to the international airport
Strong internet connection
Private universities located near by giving us the ability to work closely with them
However, concerns have been raised that it is too far south. It has been suggested that Abuja is a better location, close to the government and centrally located. We are investigating the possibilities and will keep you posted.
Discussion points during the October 18, 2019 community forum::
Q:= question from community member
A:= GAIN team answer/response
Q: Is GAIN only at the University level or can this begin with a primary school?
A: The goal is Gallaudet in Nigeria for Africa However, we know the foundation for college ready students starts in primary and secondary. There are many primary and secondary schools for the Deaf in Nigeria. Though GAIN is focused on tertiary education our efforts will certainly support having students prepared to enter.
Q: What roles do NNAD and WesleyUNI play in the MOU?
A: Gallaudet brings the 155+ years of expertise as the world’s only bilingual, multicultural institution of higher education that ensures the intellectual and professional advancement of Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard-of-Hearing individuals through American Sign Language and English.
NNAD brings the Deaf Nigerian perspective understanding the needs of the community and understanding the culture and systems within the community and how that interacts with the those of the country. As the national representative body of Deaf community their representation crosses geo-political zones, education and income levels, genders, ages, and religions. This work aligns with NNAD’s mission statement: “Ensuring an all-round development of the Deaf to function effectively in all facets of Endeavour through advocacy, empowerment, education, full-inclusion, seminars/conferences, workshops and partnership with relevant Agencies and stakeholders.”
WESLEYUNI brings the educational expertise and licensing in Nigeria. They bring knowledge of the general culture and customs as well as working within the government system and academia. Wesley has been supporting Deaf education at the primary and secondary levels in Nigeria for years and they approached Gallaudet as a partner for tertiary education. WesleyUNI graciously offered their foresight, desire, resources, and connections to make Gallaudet in Nigeria a reality.
Q: Why are foreigners involved in GAIN and not Nigeirans who understand the systems and culture?
A: GAIN consists of three organizations with Nigerian leaders from NNAD and Wesley University bringing expertise in the culture, customs, and navigating government and academic systems. The foreigners involved were brought on because of their skills which enable them to uniquely support this initial phase of our project. No decision is made outside of Nigerian expertise and the non-Nigerians bring with them neutrality and perception of fairness that perhaps someone from Nigeria might not since there are still some internal divisions in the country. That perception by these not involved is important to the success of this phase of the project.
Concern: The community does not feel involved or informed.
A: Though not the intent, GAIN team members acknowledge this is the impact and we aim to improve.
Gallaudet hosts two forums annually – Fall/Spring – a forum was hosted Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 and October 18, 2019 is our Fall forum.
Currently GAIN has one full-time staff at Gallaudet with peripheral support from team members who have other full time jobs. We have learned much during the past year and are creating structured support through a dedicated team at GU and in Nigeria.
Gallaudet has a new University Communications team that is working with GAIN and we look forward to improved communications through a website.
Until that time we continue to post on facebook and you can always reach out with any questions and concerns through email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or stopping by HMB S242.
NNAD COMMUNICATION (NP submitted in writing for this update):
NNAD has shared GAIN information with NNAD Excos through general WhatsApp forum of the Association through NPRO. This information is shared with Zonal Coordinators to share in their respective states.
NNAD solicited input on the tripartite MOU through a committee comprised of: Excos, Gally Alumni, and Women Leaders before the final endorsement.
NNAD is now discussing the establishment of a GAIN communication committee to be responsible for information and communication sharing.
Suggestion: Need a committee to ensure communication, involvement, and shared issues – each project – get folks involved and get contacts.
Committee for planning visit – what are the goals for the visit
Commitment to show up and make sure we are successful
A: An excellent suggestion and one we will aim to implement as soon as feasible.
Community member’s comment:
Let us honor how this all began. Our beloved brother, Dr. Isaac Agboola passed away, and his cousin, Sir Aladekomo came to the US to bury him. This is why the project grew legs, because Sir Aladekomo approached Gallaudet to honor late Isaac Agboola. Let us honor Agboola and support Aladekomo and ensure this project succeeds for the benefits of all Deaf Nigerians and other neighboring Deaf Africans. Let us not gripe about location or who is involved at what point, let us come together to see the bigger picture, put aside our differences, collaborate, and let us take action to support what has already started and once we learn from it then we can grow, move, or create others.