The quality of the Hindi Urdu Flagship’s language training and student scholarship was once again recognized on a national stage as HUF students Florence Kerns and Ishita Paul both won first place in their respective categories at the prestigious national Hindi debate held at Yale University on April 6. The debate featured contestants from Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Pennsylvania, New York University, Cornell, Wellesley, UCLA, and Welseyan, all of whom were asked to articulate a defense or critique of higher education. The panel of judges awarded second-year HUF student Florence Kerns first-place in the category of non-native non-heritage Hindi speakers while fourth-year HUF student Ishita Paul was awarded first-place among native heritage speakers. The judges particularly applauded Kerns’ ability to improvise and respond thoughtfully to questions without relying on a memorized Hindi ‘script’. Similarly, they praised Paul’s remarkable range of Hindi register and nuanced thought on a difficult subject. HUF Foundation Year Hindi lecturer, Vidhu Chaturvedi, assisted both students in their extensive preparations for the debate and accompanied them to the event to serve as member of the Hindi faculty panel. The debate received extensive coverage throughout the national media in India (view a PDF compilation of the coverage).
The Yale Hindi Debate is an annual event driven by the Yale India Initiative and Hindi-Urdu faculty from across the country. Past topics include; “Patriotism is No Longer Relevant” (2009), “Religion is More Divisive than Unifying” (2010), and “Marriage is a Dying Institution” (2011).