UTILIZING INTENSE LANGUAGE IMMERSION TO REACH ACADEMIC GOALS
PhD Candidate in Religion
The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is an intensive language and cultural immersion program funded by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The program funds American students to travel to the country (or area within a country) in which the target language is spoken. I studied Hindi with the CLS program in Jaipur, Rajasthan in India. While there, I not only had the opportunity to study Hindi in the classroom in more breadth and depth than I ever had in the States, but I also had the op- portunity to apply my learning in the classroom to bazaar shopping and rickshaw rides. In addition to classroom instruction housed in the American Institute of Indian Studies in Jaipur, the CLS program provides supportive host families, language partners, and cultural activity classes such as dance, Urdu writing, painting, singing, and playing an instrument. I chose to take a cooking class and learned to make— among other things— a “Punjabi” breakfast and Bombay street food.
After successfully completing the CLS Hindi program, I traveled to Surat, Gujarat to complete pre-dissertation fieldwork with funding from the Bharati Memorial Award. During my time in Surat, I had the opportunity to visit the Centre for Social Studies, where I hope to be affiliated during my dissertation research. While I spent the majority of my time speaking with female leaders of a Hindu women’s group in Surat and attending women’s meetings in a village and town in Surat district, I also had the opportunity to visit several Ganapati shrines and observe Ganapati processions for the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi.