Corinne Heutschi

Corinne Heutschi

Always on the lookout for new adventures, Corinne learns to speak with her hands

Twelve years ago, Corinne and her husband crossed the path of a young deaf apprentice, leading them on a discovery of a new language as something visible and alive. It was by thinking in images that they gradually learned to sign.

As a cooking instructor in a special needs school, one day, Corinne's husband welcomed a deaf student into his class. "We’ve travelled all over the world, learning basic phrases in Malagasy, Arabic, we always found a way to communicate. But this time, my husband was at a loss and had to work through an interpreter. Frustrated at having to teach through a third person, he decided to learn sign language. Always supportive of my husband and curious by nature, I wanted to join him on this latest quest to learn a new language. 

For Corinne and her husband, what started as a way to engage with a student, has now become a way of life. Through frequent dinners with their former teacher, now a friend, the couple take every opportunity to practice. Meals are divided into two acts: a time to eat and a time to watch hands and faces as they exchange on  current affairs, cooking, sports, etc. "Every joke or pun we manage to sign is a small victory.”  

In French-speaking Switzerland, we use French sign language. Like other sign languages, it is a visual and gestural language based on mimicry, imitation and symbolisation. There are different languages in different regions. Neuchâtel has its own particularities, as does Fribourg, Vaud, etc.

For a change of scenery while practising, Corinne and her husband go to the Geneva museums Mamco (Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art) and MAH (Museum of Art and History), to follow guided tours in sign language. "Managing to follow the guide, who is himself deaf, is the best way to learn.” 

At some point in the future, Corinne can imagine combining her knowledge of sign language with her love for the city of Calvin by giving guided tours dedicated to deaf and hard of hearing people. A new leap into the unknown that deserves to be explored for this young grandmother of five grandchildren!

When she is not learning new languages and discovering new cultures, Corinne is an executive assistant at PAA.

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