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Gallaudet’s Grand Grant Project

Gallaudet University has been selected by the U.S. Department of State and World Learning to be part of the Communities Connecting Heritage Program.
Communities Connecting Heritage engages underrepresented communities, empowers youth, and builds partnerships between communities in the U.S. and key strategic world regions through exchange projects that explore cultural heritage topics. These projects advance cultural heritage appreciation and preservation through community outreach and public education and by reinforcing positive narratives.

Gallaudet is collaborating with the Centre for Fine Arts (BOZAR), in Brussels, Belgium, for a project entitled “Connecting Capitals.” The work will be led by Gallaudet’s Melissa Malzkuhn, digital innovation and media strategy manager for the National Science Foundation Science of Learning Center at Gallaudet on Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2), and Lauren Benedict, digital media specialist in the Office of University Communications.

The collaboration will use art-making, education, and technology to connect and empower up to 20 deaf youth ages 18 to 27 from the U.S. and Belgium to be thoughtful and engaged citizens through a deeper understanding of their respective deaf heritages explored through the lens of civic engagement. Through two exhibitions, public events, artistic co-creation, and a dedicated app, the project will strengthen awareness and understanding of deaf and hearing Belgian and American cultures and values, build sustainable networks for collaboration, and promote cross-cultural understanding. At its core, the project is about youth civic engagement, collaboration, social inclusion, and celebrating deaf heritage as being both distinct from and interconnected with broader American and Belgian heritages.

“We’re thrilled to partner with BOZAR and build our creative network and turn this into a collective experience through the power of narratives. This project will bring a deeper understanding of our cultural values and self-representation as digital citizens, across nations,” said Malzkuhn.

“In order to understand where we want to go, it is important to know where we come from. To focus on what unites us rather than on what divides us. Americans and Belgians, both hearing and Deaf, share common experiences rooted in democratic principles and practices. We look forward to connecting our capitals, transforming social perspectives,” said Raphael Miles, project manager of BOZAR.

“We’re looking forward to this great opportunity for Gallaudet and its students to take part in the collaboration with BOZAR to learn, engage, and deliver a special creative project that speaks to both communities,” said Benedict.

Virtual exchanges will begin in early 2018, leading up to the in-person exchanges and public exhibitions in the spring and summer. A special topics course will be established as a part of this program, providing an immersive experience for Gallaudet students, culminating with a trip to Brussels in May. To learn more go to: www.motionlightlab.com/connectingcapitals.

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