For the first time ever, intermediate Hindi is being offered at the University of Montana (UM), taught by Surbhi Jain, a Fulbright scholar at the University, who will also be teaching elementary Hindi and will act as a cultural ambassador for India over the upcoming school year.
“It was a very good opportunity to represent my culture and language,” Surbhi said.
Surbhi Jain hails from Uttar Pradesh where Hindi is the most widely spoken. She has lived all over India, however, because of her father’s job in the Indian Air Force.
She received her bachelor’s in English language and literature, and she hopes to teach English as a second language in India someday.
Jain said she’s especially looking forward to the cultural exchanges that will take place over the semester.
“I mean, you can find everything on the Internet, but when you talk to a person and you’re one-on-one with each other, you learn more things and understand each other more easily,” she said.
In her class, students will learn about Indian culture, Hindi phonetics and how body language is incorporated into the spoken language.
They’ll also celebrate several Indian holidays throughout the year, including Hindi Day on Sept. 14.
The University hopes to bring more Fulbright scholars to Missoula to continue teaching Hindi, said Ruth Vanita, a liberal studies professor in the South and Southeast Asian studies program.
Hindi is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world, Vanita said, and she hopes to generate interest in the program with students at UM.
“They are anxious to know more,” she said. “There’s a lot of potential for learning.”