A Magazine for the George Mason University Community

Learning Hindi in India

By Colleen Kearney Rich on July 18, 2016


This summer, global affairs major Beverly Harp is traveling to India for the fifth time. Two of her trips were partially funded by Critical Language Scholarships from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. She lived with a host family and went to Hindi class for five hours a day.

“In those two summers I went from intermediate low to advanced on the State Department’s official oral proficiency scale,” Harp says.

Mason student Beverly Harp studied sitar during one of her trips to India. Photo courtesy of Harp

Mason student Beverly Harp studied sitar during one of her trips to India. Photo courtesy of Harp

Her goals are twofold: she is interested in working on policy issues surrounding climate change—and she wants to do it in Hindi.

“Knowing English equals wealth in north India,” she says. “Studying Hindi allows me to talk to people who aren’t normally part of the [climate change] conversation.”

For Harp, travel to India is a family tradition. Her grandmother taught at the Woodstock School, an international boarding school in Mussoorie, so Harp and her siblings each did a high school year in India. But for Harp, the experience stuck.

And while she is able to interview people in Hindi, she still doesn’t consider herself fluent in the language. But she soon will be. After graduating from Mason, she plans to live and work in India for three to four years before attending graduate school.


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