Cultural Exchange Through Hindi: Reflections From Our Delhi Young Artists Forum Experience

Delhi Young Artists Forum Meeting
Delhi Young Artists Forum (DYAF) meeting

Kusum Ji’s Hindi class is always filled with unique and fun immersion opportunities, whether that be through scavenger hunts, cooking classes, or NGO meetings. These opportunities allow students to learn more about Indian culture and improve their skills within the language.

My class, Hindi 102, recently met with the Delhi Young Artists Forum (DYAF). During our time together, we sang songs, conversed individually, and taught English lessons. To begin class, we introduced ourselves by saying our names and what we liked to do. This allowed us to practice our recent grammar lesson and learn what the children’s passions were. Afterwards, we sang Hindi songs that we had learned in class and listened to individual students sing their favorite songs! These fun and interactive activities helped us form a close bond with one another.

We were then separated into smaller groups to talk to students individually. This was my favorite part of the session as it was more personalized, and I was able to get to know my student. My student and I conversed about our daily schedule, our families, and our passions. We were able to find many similarities and connect over them. Although I struggled a few times with my grammar and vocabulary, she was very kind and even helped correct my errors. After our conversation, we joined a larger group and my peers and I presented an English lesson. We taught them greetings in English as well as goodbyes. As we went around in our group, students were equally engaged and energetic to learn. Finally, we reconvened as a class to go over the lessons we taught and say our final goodbyes until next time!

This was a very rewarding experience not only because of the personal connections we were able to form with the students, but we were also able to improve our Hindi conversation skills in a “real world” context. These are invaluable connections, and I hope we get to maintain them as we progress through our Hindi curriculum.


Here are a few comments from Hindi students about the experience:

Shloka: "I enjoyed the meeting with the Delhi Young Artist Forum. I was able to hold a conversation much better this semester due to more practice and learning more vocabulary. Moreover, the questions from the question bank were a lot better at making the discussion more lively since they required more thought and weren’t just yes/no questions. At times, I felt like I couldn’t accurately convey what I wanted to say in Hindi because it required more advanced grammar and vocabulary that we haven’t learned yet, but the DYAF members were very nice and were still able to somewhat understand me. My ‘aha’ moment was when I was able to connect with the members I had and talk about our similar tastes in Bollywood movies. One of the members also recited a poem in Hindi that she liked to us, which was really interesting to learn about. Since we had practiced teaching beforehand, the English lesson was a lot more useful and effective, which was shown by how well the members were able to practice greeting each other in English."

Tara: "I loved the Delhi Young Artist Forum. My favorite part was that this time, I was paired with a couple of younger girls who loved Bollywood, romance novels, and other activities. I enjoyed getting to know both of them though a difficulty was that I did not always understand vocabulary or the structure of sentences well enough to understand what they were asking, so I sometimes gave off-topic answers. This can be remedied through personal and active review of vocabulary and grammar so that I can refresh myself on question formation. I enjoyed tag-teaming with Prisha because there were two other folks in the room with us, and I think that the English-learning section was more doable than the previous NGO meeting. My ‘aha’ moment was showing the girls Duke as I walked outside – it was a beautiful day and the trees were in full bloom. They said that it was gorgeous!”

Sathvika: "I absolutely loved the meeting and learned so much about two girls from India. I was alone, so I had to really practice my Hindi but they helped me a lot. The question bank was really helpful and my conversational skills improved vastly. I loved the Delhi Young Artist forum overall and would definitely do it again. My ‘aha’ moment was speaking in Hindi for 20 minutes plus, which is huge for me. I showed the girls my room and they showed me their artwork and their room."

Isha: "I really enjoyed the meeting with Delhi Young Artist Forum! I love being able to hear from their experiences and also to practice my own Hindi speaking. It is sometimes challenging to respond to them because I understand what they are asking but it takes some time to figure out what to say in response. It’s just part of natural conversation, and we will just learn with more practice. My ‘aha’ moment was when I got to talk to some of the girls about my time in Delhi because it helped us to better connect."

Rakshita: "I had a good time meeting with DYAF. Some challenges I faced was that sometimes the girls would speak really fast in Hindi, or they would ask me a question with vocab I didn’t know. However, I was able to figure it out with follow up questions, and I really enjoyed getting to know them. We talked about where we would travel to if we were rich, and where we have already travelled to. My ‘aha’ moment was talking to the girls about dance, because we all really love dance and connected over this. I felt prepared for the meeting."

Rishi: "The Delhi Young Artist Forum meeting was a very insightful experience. I enjoyed talking to the very diverse student body, and I thought I learned a lot more about both Delhi as a city and the experiences growing up in such a different community from mine. The biggest challenge for me was speaking to the artists alone as I did not have any Duke peers with me in the breakout room. It got a little difficult at times extending the conversation due to the language barrier between me and the artists. I think we were well prepared to handle this meeting. We had conversation topics, and we practiced in class. My ‘aha’ moment was when I realized I was able to speak and hold a conversation in Hindi for an entire 30 minutes, albeit with a few difficulties and mistakes. Overall, the meeting was great, and I really wouldn’t change much about it. My conversations and our overall class discussion were much improved from last semester."

Vaibhav: "I enjoyed the NGO meeting this time around compared to the ones we had in 101/102. One, because we were talking one-on-one, so we could ask/answer more questions. The questions were also pretty conversational, which I liked because I was able to practice my Hindi more. I also enjoyed giving the idioms lesson and presenting our poems - they felt more substantial than what we did last year." 

Sanjit: "The NGO meeting was interesting, and I enjoyed listening to the members of the NGO speak about their interests and hobbies. It was difficult at times to deal with background noise and Wi-Fi problems, but it was still good to talk with fluent Hindi speakers in a conversation. I enjoyed teaching a lesson in English to the NGO members, and I enjoyed talking in the big groups with one another. It was very good practice for Hindi to speak with the NGO." 

Kyndall: "I enjoyed meeting with NGO members again. It was a little less awkward/difficult the second time. It gave me a good opportunity to practice my speaking and listening in a more natural conversation. I was pleasantly surprised at my ability to follow along with the discussion. The smaller group size made conversations flow more easily, and we were all able to be more involved in the idioms lesson."


This event was supported and funded by Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and Duke Service-Learning.