By Stephanie, NSLI-Y India, Summer 2015

image of stephanie in indore

नमस्ते! Although this was my fourth visit to India, it was my first trip to Indore and my very first time learning Hindi.

My earliest memory of India when I first visited 12 years ago was the consistent honking of cars and auto rickshaws. In my home state of Hawaii, very seldom do commuters blare their horns when driving and if they do, they are subjected to nasty looks and expressions from other drivers. I also wasn't used to seeing cows and other animals casually roaming around the streets every day. There truly isn't a word that can describe India as a whole; each state, region, coast, city, and family is so unique and diverse from others through cultural and religious differences, all of which contribute to India's majestic beauty.

I applied to the NSLI-Y program to learn more about my Indian heritage and create relationships with people around the globe. Despite being half Indian, I was not very familiar with the Indian culture, history, or the language. Two years ago, I volunteered as an English Teacher at the Hope Foundation School in Bangalore for six weeks. Over time, I soon realized that it was extremely difficult to teach a new language to students without any knowledge of their native tongue. I wanted to desperately get to know my students and help them learn in any way I could, yet it was nearly impossible to do so with our language barrier.

image of stephanie and other nsli-y students riding an elephant

Through the NSLI-Y program, I was able to communicate with people that I would have never been able to before without learning Hindi. Language is the key that unlocks so much about people and different cultures. The answers to some of our world's most complex issues could lie with someone who is obstructed by a language barrier. With this in mind, I have learned through this experience that language is such a powerful tool that can truly make our world a better place. Through global understanding and cooperation, we can work together to make a difference for generations to come.

With my newly acquired knowledge of Hindi, I hope to one day return to Bangalore again and teach the students at the Hope Foundation School. Better yet, I also hope to create relationships with the students by learning more about their culture and also sharing my own culture and customs. I am so grateful to have received the NSLI-Y scholarship because I am now able to use my newly acquired knowledge to make a lasting impact for others. धन्यवाद!

nsli-y students dressed in ghagra, a traditional indian dress