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Minnesota Governor's Very Expressive Sign Language Interpreter Becomes An Internet Sensation

Officer of the Governor of Minnesota/YouTube

To say that the past week of civil unrest in the wake of George Floyd's murder has been difficult for all of us would be a vast understatement. But of course Minnesota, where Floyd lived and was killed, is bearing the brunt.

Thankfully, there's been one tiny ray of light each day: Minnesota Governor Tim Walz's American Sign Language interpreter, whose effusive, expressive sign language renditions of the Governor's daily press briefings has made her Minnesota's newest internet fave.

Her name is Nic Zapko, and she was born deaf. Of course, in these troubled times—not just the protests in Minneapolis and cities across the country, but the ongoing pandemic—her job is essential in ensuring that the Deaf community in Minnesota can stay as up-to-date on the latest information as everyone else.

But lately, Zapko's expressive deliveries have garnered her a fanbase far beyond just the immediate community she serves, and when watching her in action, it's easy to see why.

Here she is in Governor Walz's press briefing from Monday.

Governor Walz's 6/1/20 Briefing Update www.youtube.com

She really is kind of transfixing to watch, isn't she?

She adds a whole other dimension to the Governor's words. For Zapko, though, it's just her normal way of speaking—movement and facial expressions like hers are central to ASL's system of communication.

As the CDC explains:

"ASL is a complete language. People communicate using hand shapes, direction and motion of the hands, body language, and facial expressions."

It's far more intricate than simple hand gestures, it turns out, and Zapko's flair for the dramatic makes her all the more eloquent.

And as Zapko recently told Minneapolis's WCCO, she loves her job, which is a fairly new one in Minnesota.

ASL Interpreters Praised For Delivering Key Messages To Deaf Community During Pandemic www.youtube.com

As she told WCCO:

"The deaf community in Minnesota is incredibly thrilled, and they are finally able to feel included and feel a part of the state and say we are here, we aren't separate."

And on Twitter, Minnesotans are definitely feeling the love for Zapko.










For her part, Zapko is definitely feeling the love.

She took to Twitter herself recently to thank everyone for their support.

Sounds like Zapko and Minnesota are lucky to have each other!