Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Day 280: Double Script Deal

Our students are fabulous: they are choosing to learn two new scripts, Hindi and Urdu (for the same spoken language). I know I probably couldn't handle learning two scripts at once, but these students are truly dedicated to be working hard at the language and scripts during their summer.

I remember taking Hindi-Urdu my last year of undergrad, and enjoyed the class thoroughly (who didn't enjoy Professor M.'s classes?). Prof. M. always stressed that the colloquial languages of Hindi and Urdu were the exact same (with the exception of a few word choices here and there). All students learned the Hindi script during the three Quarters, and Urdu script was offered as an option during the third Quarter. Many students of various backgrounds chose to learn the Urdu script, but I remember being upset when, right in front of the class, two students firmly refused to learn the script. While I no longer remember what words those two girls used, I remember feeling discriminated against, and whereas during the whole year in that class I had simply thought of myself as a fellow South Asian desi, those girls' loud refusal to learn the Urdu script (with negative remarks), made me feel "other". That didn't feel good.

But lo and behold, 5 years later, a new group of young students, and a completely different, positive experience with a Hindi-Urdu language and script course! I love that these students (of mixed ethnic and religious family backgrounds from South Asia) each chose to learn both scripts, one historically associated with Muslims and the other with Hindus, and chose to do so with positive attitudes. It seems that they realize that gaining knowledge of a script (as with language) is a power that you obtain, and to be able to gain skills in two scripts for the same language is even more powerful. By doing so, they have empowered themselves, obliterating silly religio-politics associated with scripts and instead appreciating each script as an individual art form worth learning because each provides a means of increasing communication skills in our ever-meshing world.

Shaabaash bachoN! =)

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