The second Adventist International Congress for Deaf and Deaf-blind ended on Saturday, March 13. It took place over two days: Friday, March 12, for one hour, and Saturday, March 13, for two hours. It was a challenge that the organisers, ADMI (Adventist Deaf Ministries International) of the Inter-European Region of the Seventh-day Adventist (EUD) Church, faced with determination, despite the difficulties that an online event entails.
The online congress was organised with the latest generation of audio-visual technical software: Zoom. About 150 participants followed the event through Zoom, but there was also a livestream on Youtube with about 250 contacts registered. “Our intention was always the same: to organise an international event by personal presence, but the continuing threat of the pandemic has caused us to postpone the organisation of the congress indefinitely. This is the reason why we have decided to organise this event online, to keep in touch with all the participants from the previous editions. An event that we organised at the last minute, despite the COVID-19 restrictions!” Such was the explanation given by the ADMI EUD director, Corrado Cozzi.
The motto, ‘Through my Zoom’, replaced the traditional motto of the ADMI EUD Congress, ‘Through my hands’, created for the occasion.
"It was a pleasure to see all the participants ‘looking out of their windows’ and talking to their friends. Yes, dialogue, because the language of the Deaf allows all the dialogues to cross each other without interference and annoying overlap," said C. Cozzi. "It was like seeing a block of flats with everyone at the window, happily taking advantage of this opportunity to talk to a distant friend from another country, or to make new encounters. For me, this was the most important phase of the whole congress, despite a programme full of well-calibrated speeches to attract everyone's attention. Imagine that many people stayed until an hour and a half after the closure, continuing to talk, with the desire not to end so soon!” concluded Corrado Cozzi.
The guests were really special: Jitka Moravkova, Deaf theology student from Czech Republic; Henry Maina Kamau, Deaf pastor from Kenya; and Douglas Domingo da Silva, Deaf pastor from Brazil.
All of them presented a spiritual message focusing on the way to overcome any obstacle—and we are in a time rife with obstacles—with the extraordinary help of our Lord Jesus Christ. Among the guests, there was also Carlos Martinez, an international mime, who presented three pieces. We also had the privilege to welcome Larry Evans, head of Adventist Possibility Ministries at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, and Jeff Jordan, Associate Coordinator for Deaf Ministry for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
The program’s main language was English. It was also translated into Spanish, French, Italian, German, Romanian, Czech, Portuguese – and obviously, all in Sign languages. All participants had to look for the interpreter with the flag corresponding to their language. The rest of the program included a series of interesting and original activities. There was also an interactive segment where participants were called on to present their contribution.
A lottery to win a prize. In the very simple lottery game, three names were drawn from the list of those who registered, and a gift was sent to them.
Through my Dress. A performance to show the best and most original dress. This game required creativity and imagination. Participants had to think about a disguise that made them original, such as a special hat, a special jacket, or a dress. The most original disguise received a reward.
Through my Frame. A picture through an original frame. This game required creativity and imagination and the most original idea was awarded.
The congress was led by Geoffrey Zobries, the director of the German Association of the Deaf and Deaf-blind. Being deaf himself, Geoffrey led the whole event in a remarkable way, allowing all participants to be involved in the dynamics of the programme, while accompanying them from beginning to end to experience an extraordinary journey.
In the final greeting, Geoffrey gave the appointment for the next Adventist International Congress for Deaf and Deaf-blind, which should normally be organised for a face-to-face encounter in September 2021. But the overall pandemic situation forces us to consider the possibility of organising another online event.