1) My studies in India affirmed my belief in the power of language to foster meaningful connections and to convey powerful messages across cultures. I have always loved learning languages because I feel that they connect me to cultures and realities outside my own. The experience of speaking Hindi in India with citizens in their cities, places of worship, and homes actualized and went beyond these hopes and sentiments I had about cross cultural connections. Actually, in my language study, my professors made me realize that I have a lot of bad habits when it comes to grammar, and that there were some key concepts I was failing to grasp in comparison to my fellow students who have also been studying Hindi in college. While this program certainly helped me grow in these places through class work and face to face conversations, it also made me realize the limitations of my knowledge, and how much more I still have to learn to achieve my goal of being a fluent speaker.
2) What I found to be most rewarding about my trip was moments of spontaneous and casual conversation with Indians. Within Indian communities a culture of welcome and hospitality is very visible and people were always eager to ask what I thought about India, the culture, and the people. The experience was very humbling and I very much enjoyed being able to engage with Indian people and talk about their work, families, and homes. I hope to grow in my Hindi language skills so that I can return to India and be more engaged and immersed in the communities I feel so fortunate to have lived in for such a short period of time. Something that I found very inspiring was that many people of various social classes were multi-lingual, speaking Hindi, English, as well as a regional language, and these encounters motivate me to persevere in my own language studies. I would highly encourage someone considering applying for the SLA grant to apply. Further, I would encourage people in their respective host countries to be both proactive in seeking opportunities to wrestle with the language while also taking the time to listen. When you seek to blend into the background you can better watch how people speak to each other, observing their mannerisms, greetings, tone, expressions, and all of the other small habits unique to a different language and culture.
3) Upon returning from my study abroad, I look forward to progressing in Hindi through independent study. My current task is to find a rigorous and challenging program to take up in the fall. I will maintain and apply what I learned from my program and assignments as well as continue contact with my summer professors for advice on Hindi language and Indian culture. While on my trip, my classmates referred me to many good resources such as a door into Hindi and some youtube channels. I think that these will be very helpful in clarifying grammar questions, which I found to be my greatest language challenge on the trip. I hope to use my SLA grant experience to pursue a critical language scholarship program grant through the US government, which allows for intense language study in India. My long term goal is to tie in my studies in economics to research on India’s rapid growth and development.