An Entire Town Learned Sign Language For One Man

Surprises seem like a fairly polarizing occurrence—even when they are intended to be good surprises. Take, for example, surprise birthday parties: Many people delight in the unexpected joy and celebration, immediately copping a champagne flute and relishing the beloved attention. Others are downright pissed that someone would pull a fast one like that on them, barely hiding their disappointment with a thin smile. There are also surprises that affect many of us, with which we have mixed or unsettled feelings in its wake—like the news that there are even more U2 records in the world. But in cases like the whole town who learned sign language to surprise a deaf resident, surprises can summon life-affirming, positive feels to our very core.

Muaharrem is a young Turkish man, hailing from Istanbul. He is also deaf. Samsung partnered with Leo Burnett ad agency to give the entire neighborhood sign language lessons. Together, the two companies also spent about a month setting up clandestine video cameras throughout the area to capture what would happen next. When Muadharrem's sister, Ozlem, walked with him on a seemingly mundane errand day, he noticed something was up: Throughout their run, Muadharrem couldn't help but notice almost everyone conversing directly with him in sign language—from passersby to the deli counter person to cab drivers. But it's the ending and the big reveal at the end of the video that really give the effort pause.

Apparently Samsung executes the project as part of an elaborate advertising campaign (I mean, of course), aimed to promote their Turkish branch's brand new video call center for the deaf and hard of hearing. I'm always torn with stuff like this: It's heartwarming, for sure, to see all of Muadharrem's neighbors showing camaraderie like this, but I also kind of hate when brands get all emotionally manipulative with their advertising. But at the end of the day, this guy had an actual, profound human moment, and no calculated origins can take that away. I guess it doesn't really matter why the neighbors learned something that brought so much joy and feelings of acceptance to this guy's life—at least it happened.

Image: Fotolia