Living in Language Immersion in Lucknow

-Jeff Marshall, Master of Public Diplomacy Candidate

Marshall in Lucknow

Adab, SAC community! As I write this letter, I am in the second-to final-week of my 5-month adventure as a Boren Fellow in Lucknow, India. I’ll be the first to admit that in spite of the resources I was afforded as a Foreign Languages and Area Studies Fellow (FLAS) at Syracuse, not even the Center’s excellent resources and instructors could truly prepare me for my experience as full-time Urdu language student. In June, I packed my bags and moved to Madison, WI to participate in the South Asian Summer Language Institute’s Urdu program. While in Madison, I spent approximately eight hours a day, five days a week immersed in the Urdu language. I read shairi (poetry), khabar (news), and kahaaniyaa (stories), all of which helped me to better understand both the language and culture of India. Less than a week after the SASLI program, I was boarding a plane to head to Lucknow, which is a city of rich history, culture and tradition. 

One of the things I love most about Lucknow is the old city’s bazaars. Before coming to Lucknow, I could not say that I’d ever been in a pedestrian traffic jam – that’s just how many people come to the city’s bazaars to purchase their produce, spices, clothing, books and pretty much anything else you could imagine. I’ve also enjoyed getting myself lost in the winding alleys of the city and using my “tutti phutti” (a fun word for broken) Urdu to find my way home. 

Ultimately, though, I am greatly indebted to the South Asia Center for the great opportunities I’ve been afforded, as it was the Center’s support that opened my eyes to the fascinating region that is South Asia and the miti awaaz (sweet voice) of the Urdu language. 

Jeff Marshall is a second year graduate student in the Public Diplomacy Program run in cooperation between Maxwell and Newhouse. As a student of public diplomacy, Jeff has a keen interest in examining the mediums and ways in which countries engage with public audiences.