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100 Students Learn Hindi at Intensive Summer Camp

August 2010
100 Students Learn Hindi at Intensive Summer Camp

One hundred middle school and high school students spent ten days learning Hindi and Indian culture at the Startalk Yuva Summer Hindi Camp at Berkmar High School, Lilburn, Georgia from June 19 to 28.

Organized by Yuva Hindi Sansthan, a New Jersey based educational and cultural organization, and directed by Dr. Surendra Gambhir, a former professor at the University of Pennsylvania, the program used a local network of volunteers and business owners, said assistant director Manju Tiwari, who has taught Hindi in the Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies Department of Emory University.

Participants took a virtual trip to India. They were introduced to India’s geography, diversity, history and culture, and were made aware of the importance of Hindi as a link language. After ten days they were able to read and write simple Hindi texts and communicate in Hindi using formulaic expressions.

Indoor and outdoor activities provided social and cultural contexts for learning. Every morning students practiced yoga under the guidance of Anamika Dwivedi, a professional yoga instructor. The food represented various regions of India, and students sat on the floor to eat on the day they studied Indian village culture.

A field trip on the seventh day provided opportunities to learn about Indian values at the Swami Narayan Temple and about parallels between Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. at the King Memorial, and a bazaar was organized so that students could interact with shopkeepers in Hindi.

Singing, dance, and movie clips were used along with research-supported principles of second language acquisition, explained Dr. Gambhir. Yuva Hindi Sansthan (YHS) is a group of teachers, researchers and community activists who realize the importance of heritage languages in the appreciation and understanding of the heritage culture and are promoting knowledge, retention and usage of Hindi, especially at a time when the US federal government has publicly announced the intention of including Hindi in the public (government) school curriculum all over the country.

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