Day 46: 'Basque'-ing in Research

Fecha: 20/10/2018

I attended my first international conference, the Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language (BCBL) “Workshop on Reading, Language & Deafness”!  I had an incredible time learning about both the neuro-cognitive and linguistic sides of my research field.

I was inspired and awed by the presentations and the presenters themselves.  I loved the linguistic accessibility and diversity! I met users of International Sign (there were many well-traveled individuals), American (ASL), Spanish (LSE), British, Mexican, Polish, Italian, German, Irish, Hebrew, and Dutch Sign Language.  Absolutely incredible!

The first two days were mostly focused on the scientific research.  The primary language of the main conference was English, with ASL and IS interpreting.  I was blown away by the methodologies and findings. Switching from English to Spanish to ASL to (very broken) LSE left me mentally exhausted. Probably, from flexing my left inferior frontal gyrus and left posterior superior temporal gyrus (Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas in the brain)

((neuro-linguistic joke))


The third day was a more discussion-based program.  A few presentations on a topic were given. Then, the presenters sat on a panel to answer audience and moderator questions.  There was fairly good representation with at least 2 Deaf panelists during each topic. The final day was also unique in that it was in Spanish AND English.

There was an opportunity to receive a set of headsets that would translate into your preferred language.  So official... I felt as if I was at a UN meeting!

The interpreting game was also VERY strong!  There were two interpreters in the front, signing in ASL and LSE for audience members.  There were many interpreters sitting in the front row interpreting for presenters and panelists (and also interpreters that voiced for Deaf panelists).  There were two more interpreters “behind the curtain” that interpreted English to Spanish, and vice versa, for anyone who needed translation through the headphones.

I was very proud of myself for understanding almost all of the scientific Spanish discussed in the day without the use of headphones! It was a moment that made me think, “Maybe my Spanish HAS improved after living here for 6 weeks!”

Following the close of the conference, I joined a PhD student and professor from the University of Texas – Austin and a scholar from the UK in visiting the San Sebastián Aquarium, to which we had free admission with our conference badge (I felt so cool flashing the badge and walking in)!

Following the aquarium, I had the opportunity to wine and dine with neurocognitive/sign-language/linguistic academic leaders!

Long story short, this was a PHENOMENAL opportunity that I feel so blessed to have experienced!