American Sign Language interpreters enjoy a semester in Croatia!


By: Angela Madjer, a Chicago Gal and RIT Croatia alumna

Aside from receiving a good quality education, RIT provides its students with the opportunity to experience different cultures and destinations through studying at its global campuses. The opportunity to spend 1-2 semesters at a campus in Rochester, Dubrovnik, or Dubai for example, allows students to broaden their horizons and experience something new. And each semester, RIT Croatia happily welcomes students from other campuses of RIT.

The RIT main campus in Rochester is home to the the National Technical Institute of the Deaf, one of its nine colleges which is also the world’s first and largest technological college for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. It has more than 1,100 deaf and hard-of-hearing students and over 100 ASL (American Sign Language) interpreters to assist students during their time at RIT. This past semester, ASL interpreters David and Caroline accompanied four deaf and hard-of-hearing students from RIT’s main campus that decided to study abroad at the Zagreb, Croatia campus.

David Olivier grew up using American Sign Language and began his career interpreting even before he began pursuing his degree. Since graduating in 2018 his work has been mainly in a university setting. David interprets for a class of students or at events. As for Caroline Green, who is also an ASL interpreter for RIT, she began pursuing her career in ASL when she began RIT’s ASLIE (American Sign Language Interpretation/English) program in 2014. She now interprets at RIT’s main campus from ASL to English and vice versa and enjoys every moment of it. Take a look at what it means to be ASL interprets for them and more about their time at RIT Croatia!

What is the most challenging and most rewarding part of your job?

David: The most challenging part of our jobs varies from person to person of course, but for me, it’s difficult interpreting in a situation where I am not familiar with the topic that is being discussed. The most rewarding part is knowing two parties communicated smoothly and everyone understands what happened. It just means I did my job well and that’s enough of a reward for me.

Do you interpret for the same students throughout their 4 years at RIT, or does it change? How many students do you work with at a given time?

David: At RIT, we are assigned to specific classes for an entire semester. We may have the same student from time to time but certainly not for all classes assigned. There’s no limit to how many students or professors we could be working with yet we could work with one person or be on a stage in front of a couple of hundred people.

How many interpreters are there at the main campus?

David: There is close to 120 interpreters at RIT’s main campus. We also contract to an outside agency to cover some other assignments. The department is divided into 5 "teams” meant for organizations and different groups who have different focuses. For example, I was on the science team for 2 years. We were mostly assigned to science and math classes since most people had previous experience or interest in the science/math field.

How did you end up interpreting at RIT Croatia? How long was your trip?

Caroline: A few Deaf students from the main campus wanted to study abroad and requested interpreters for their courses they’d be taking in Croatia. The students chose David and me to be their interpreters for the semester! We arrived end of August 2019 and left mid-December 2019!

What do you think about Zagreb and have you seen any other parts of Croatia?

Caroline: Zagreb was incredible! There is so much to do and so much history here. I visited Dubrovnik, Split, Samobor, and Varaždin - all wonderful experiences. My favorite would have to be Dubrovnik!

What is your impression of RIT Croatia's overall atmosphere, students, faculty & staff and would you recommend studying abroad at RIT Croatia?

Caroline: I would say the overall atmosphere has been very positive and everyone has been welcoming and accommodating! It’s a much smaller campus than Rochester and it seems everyone knows each other which is really cool. I would absolutely recommend studying here! Being abroad has allowed me to experience so much more life outside of my comfort zone. I’ve met people from all over and seen more than I imagined. I’ve tried lots of new things and learned a lot about myself through this process!

Can you compare this experience with working at the main campus?

Caroline: The main campus is huge. It would take 15-20 minutes to get from one classroom to another sometimes so the smaller campus is very easy to navigate! The main campus has a lot of student life activities which allows our work to go beyond the classroom as well but the tight-knit community at RIT Zagreb allows us to see more familiar faces throughout our workday!


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