Hindi is here; College must keep it

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November 20, 2008

11:43 PM

South Asian Studies Association President Usmaan Bashir ’09 and Vice President Sravya Yeleswarapu ’10 began efforts last spring to bring Hindi classes to the College of William and Mary.

This process began with an endless circle of meetings and an exhaustive list of correspondences from the government, global studies, theatre and history departments. Toward the end of last year, Bashir and Yeleswarapu drafted a proposal to present to Ginger Ambler, dean of Student Affairs, Chon Glover, co-chair of the Diversity Committee and Joe Schwartz, director of the Charles Center. Throughout the summer, Bashir and Yeleswarapu repeatedly met with them to discuss the various ways of approaching the issue — as lessons, as a club, as an exchange program with Virginia Commonwealth University or as a course integrated into the modern languages department.

Bashir and Yeleswararpu’s goal was to introduce Hindi into the modern languages department, but they faced obstacles. Bashir and Yeleswararpu presented their proposal in front of the Student Assembly last week to acquire funds for Hindi 100 in the spring. During the presentation, they answered questions about the course’s sustainability. After the tremendous efforts taken by SASA executive, it is time for the College to find an answer. The only way to successfully integrate this class into the modern languages department is through strong student support.

The ultimate goal for this endeavor is to create a new South Asian Studies major at the College, and SASA can’t achieve it alone. SASA has created different committees within the club to raise money and create a network of supporters. However, these opportunities should be available to all interested students.
The most important and effective way to show support for this class is to sign up for it. Hindi 100 is on Banner as course 490 under Interdisciplinary Studies and will be taught by a visiting professor from VCU. Language courses cannot be offered once every few years; each semester builds on the previous one, especially for the 100 and 200 level classes.

Therefore, students need to show continued interest and support in terms of participation and fundraising. SASA will advertise many such opportunities to help raise money throughout the upcoming semesters.
The introduction of Hindi classes will bring greater diversity and exposure to the campus. The SA has shown overwhelming support with a unanimous approval of the primer course. Bashir and Yeleswarapu have worked tirelessly for this vision and have truly done a commendable job making it happen, but they will graduate soon.

So now it is up to the students to carry these efforts forward and possibly initiate motions toward a South Asian Studies major. I look forward to registering for Hindi 100 this spring.

Kalyani Phansalkar is a sophomore at the College.

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