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Paul Sungbae Park '15: Listening to the Deaf

The Research

Anthropology major Paul Park wanted to better understand members of the deaf community and how they communicate. In particular, he wanted to explore the worship experience of deaf people who belong to a hearing church. Park learned sign language and interviewed interpreters, ministers, and members of the deaf community. He began to observe that for many deaf people, the experience of worship is limited—primarily because not many religious materials are available in American Sign Language.

In His Own Words

“In the absence of music and other types of poetic elements in prayer, I wanted to explore how the deaf experience worship. When I started the project, I thought it would be purely academic. I did not expect to be so warmly welcomed into people’s lives. The thought of being an anthropologist seemed too big a shoe to fill at first, but I found it so exciting to listen to people’s narratives. I also learned to appreciate the voices of minorities, those who are often unheard, underrepresented, or even ignored.

Adviser: Niloofar Haeri, Professor/Department Chair, Anthropology