Third-year HUF students spending the year studying in India made national headlines in January for their fluency in Urdu and their passion for language study. “American Students Enamoured by the Royal Lingo,” wrote the English-language daily The Hindu. English and Asian Studies major Florence Kerns, one of four HUF students currently in India, told the paper that she was “enchanted by [Urdu] poetry,” and even recited a ghazal by Quli Qutb Shah for the writer.
All HUF students spend their third year of the program in India. Over the course of the academic year, the students engage in advanced language training with instructors from the American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS). They also have the opportunity to participate in cultural activities, travel to many places, and gain valuable in-country professional experience, all while immersed in Hindi-Urdu, which they have studied in Austin for the two years prior.
This year’s students — Florence Kerns, Yahya Khan, Caity Martin, and Sabeena Shaikh — spent the fall semester studying Hindi in the city of Jaipur, a fast-growing, dynamic, and culturally-rich city in the northwestern state of Rajasthan. This spring, they are in the heart of Urdu-speaking north India: Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, long-hailed for its immense cultural and literary production.
In January, UT Professor and HUF Associate Director Syed Akbar Hyder joined Kerns, Khan, Martin, and Shaikh for a cultural trip to Hyderabad and other surrounding places. During the trip, Dr. Hyder led courses in Urdu aesthetics and Islam in South Asia, subjects that the students will continue to study until the end of their stay.
As their time in India draws to a close, HUF students will cap off their year by doing a month-long professional internship. This is their chance to employ the language skills they have learned in face-to-face daily interactions with native speakers of Hindi and Urdu. Previous students have interned with NGO’s like the BETI Foundation, and BMMA (Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan / Indian Muslim Women’s Movement). Many students consider the internship the highlight of their year in India.