Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Hoyas for Hindi

From Quebec City to Santiago, Paris to St. Petersburg and everyone in between, Georgetown’s study abroad options reflect the wide scope of its foreign language offerings. The subcontinent between study abroad destinations of Cairo and Shanghai, however, seems to be de facto academic flyover country, as Georgetown’s language offerings fall far short of adequate when it comes to South Asian languages.

Home to over one-fifth of the world’s population, the language offerings related to the Indian subcontinent pale in proportion. Hindi and Bengali, two of the top-10 most- spoken languages in the world, are spoken by over 750 million people worldwide (exact estimates vary), yet neither are among the 17 languages taught at Georgetown.

India’s economic strides in recent years, combined with the development of its nuclear program in the 1990s, have made the world take notice of the nation’s increasing influence in global affairs.

A working knowledge of Hindi, India’s national language, would be invaluable for students interested in getting to the heart of India’s economic development and cultural issues and for those interested in exploring international business there. Hindi is also very similar to Urdu, one of Pakistan’s official languages, and thus could unlock opportunities in intelligence-related fields there as well.

Georgetown students currently have the opportunity to take Hindi classes at George Washington University and Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies through the Consortium, but the availability of these classes, while a positive, must not be seen as a sufficient substitute for their absence at Georgetown.

All Ivy League schools offer Hindi; by not offering any South Asian languages, Georgetown is failing to joins these schools in recognizing the growing importance of the region.

Georgetown’s South Asian Society has been working diligently with the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics to explore the possibilities of Hindi language classes. Several key financial and resource-allotment issues remain to be worked out, and establishing a Hindi language program on campus will take time. The methods and means used to initialize the university’s fledgling Persian and Swahili language programs could be used as a model to get a Hindi language program off the ground, however.

While student interest in Hindi language programs has yet to be formally assessed, efforts by the administration to emphasize the value and relevance of South Asia would doubtlessly help spur student interest and awareness. Events such as South Asia Week, which concludes today, and Rangila indicate that many students are already enthusiastic about the regions and may be interested in learning Hindi, if the opportunity were available.

The School of Foreign Service is considering opening a study abroad option in Delhi, India beginning sometime next academic year. Hopefully, the opening of this program will further inspire the development of Hindi language classes. As an institution that prides itself on the quality and breadth of its international education, Georgetown must show leadership and initiative by ensuring that South Asian languages are no longer overlooked.

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