“Virtual NSLI-Y made me realize that although I am not Indian or South Asian, I can still use my privilege and opportunities to better our society and create a more fair world.” - Sarah A.

Learning a new language and culture vastly different from one’s own has its challenges, yet Sarah Abramovitz accepted the challenge with enthusiasm. Sarah believes that engaging with new cultures will help her build bridges between cultures and create a more equitable society. Hailing from Dallas Texas, Sarah studied Hindi with Virtual NSLI-Y in Winter 2022. Her love for Indian cuisines and her cross-cultural experiences with friends of Indian-descent sparked her interest to learn Hindi. Plus, with Mandarin already under her belt, she believed that learning Hindi would be a great addition to her growing language skills. Thus, she applied to Virtual NSLI-Y eager to hone her linguistic skills and cultural competence.

In her classes, Sarah enjoyed being in a classroom with other students who were just as eager as her to learn a new language. Her peers actively engaged in classroom discussions and activities, which created a fun language learning environment. Also, she remembers how warm and helpful her teacher was. Despite having challenges with learning the Hindi alphabets, Sarah found that having the help of her teacher and a consistent study plan helped her grow noticeably more proficient.

Consequently, Sarah’s Hindi skills flourished. Her skills were put to the test on the day she considers the most memorable Virtual NSLI-Y class. On the last day of Hindi class, the teacher hosted a talent show so that each student could put their newly acquired language skills on display. With practice, Sarah felt confident in her ability to read basic Hindi. She decided to recite a poem in Hindi, which won the appraisal of her teacher and peers. Though, she considers the best part of the day to be the sheer excitement and creativeness of other talent show presentations. Overall, she remembers this to be a great way to end the program.

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Due to her encouraging teacher and enthusiastic classmates, Sarah became more aware of how to create a welcoming language learning environment. Likewise, the program helped her realize that although she is not Indian or South Asian, she can use her privilege and new language skills to make a more equitable world. Sarah believes that gaining access to a new language has offered her the ability to influence peoples' opinions and decisions. She wants to use this privilege to help others have the opportunity to study languages that are not easily accessible. Observing how her classmates wanted to study Hindi to connect more with their family and heritage prompted Sarah to connect more with her own culture, being half-Jewish and half-Catholic.

Sarah’s language learning journey has only just started. Now coupled with her skills in Chinese, she aspires to use her experience with Hindi to create cultural awareness initiatives that bridge cultural gaps. She intends to accomplish this goal by pursuing a Global Studies/International Studies and Linguistics program in college.

To future Virtual NSLI-Y students, Sarah sends the following message:

“Make the most of your time in the online class. Take opportunities to practice in class, and don’t be nervous. Virtual NSLI-Y teachers are usually patient and encouraging. They want you to excel, so you should try to involve yourself with as many opportunities to participate as possible.”