Winter at Wesleyan….Thinking about India

As cold weather descends upon New England, I find myself thinking about India as we get ready for the new semester. I made a very interesting trip to Mumbai in the fall, and shortly thereafter I learned that Wesleyan had received a major grant to expand our teaching of Hindi and Urdu. This two-year $165,699 grant under the U.S. Department of Education’s Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language (UISFL) program will support language teaching, the research of STEM faculty and students in India, and the increase of cultural programming related to South Asia.

“This grant will allow Wesleyan to become one of a very small number of liberal arts institutions in the country with classroom instruction in Hindi and Urdu,” said Stephen Angle, director of the Fries Center for Global Studies. “We are excited about the ability this grant will give us to support STEM faculty and students doing summer research in India as a way of growing opportunities for international experiences in the sciences. Together with our existing faculty strength in South Asian studies (currently nine faculty across the arts, humanities, and social sciences) and the president’s initiative to expand Wesleyan’s visibility in India, the new grant will help to further solidify Wesleyan as a leader in South Asian studies.”

Recently, I read about English faculty member Hirsh Sawhney’s trip last term to participate in the festival Tata Literature Live. Among other things, Hirsh ran a writing workshop for aspiring writers and local college students in Mumbai. They focused on cultivating a sense of place — something he does marvelously well in his South Haven (Akashic Books, 2016).

Applications from India are up again this year, and we look forward to more cooperative programing between cultural and educational institutions there. We are already planning future visits!