Brothers Rahul and Rohan Krishnan share more than just their family: they share the unique experience of living abroad immersed in another culture, language, and family. They each spent a summer abroad with NSLI-Y: Rahul studied Chinese in Shanghai, China over the summer of 2016; and Rohan studied Arabic during the summer of 2017 in Rabat, Morocco. Though they spent their time on program on different continents, both share a passion for outreach and are actively advocating for NSLI-Y.
Rahul, currently a high school junior, and Rohan, a high school sophomore, frequently give presentations at local libraries encouraging their peers to apply to NSLI-Y. Additionally, Rohan has helped peers with their applications, and Rahul has begun teaching students at local elementary schools Chinese. The two also had the opportunity to speak to their district’s congressman, Joe Kennedy, about their experiences this fall. The brothers were motivated to spread the word about NSLI-Y because “we were both surprised that there is very little awareness about this excellent program that transformed us in many ways,” Rahul said. “Especially in this age, it is critical that American students gain a deep understanding of other cultures and languages and be able to communicate on friendly terms with other countries. The NSLI-Y program changed many preconceived notions we had about China and Morocco. This program is an important bridge connecting us to the world of nations.”
Rahul suggested to their fellow alumni looking to work on program outreach for NSLI-Y, “It doesn’t always have to be big presentations. Just start by spreading the word and keeping in mind that the experience doesn’t have to end just because you’re not on program anymore.” Rohan concurred and advised, “stay persistent. The first few times you reach out to a library or a rep, they may not respond or they might reject you. Don’t let that discourage you, ask more people, plan more activities, stay persistent. Help with awareness in your day-to-day life; for example, I started an Arabic Club at my school.”
The two have developed a good “toolbox” for presenting and recruiting applicants. Both Rahul and Rohan use the blogs they kept while abroad as a tool in providing potential applicants with a firsthand perspective of what it is like to participate in an NSLI-Y program. Rahul added that “during our presentation, I also show the video I put together of my experience with background commentary in Mandarin. The video is proof that the intensive language focus of the program pays off and one can actually learn to speak the language well.” Rahul mentioned that through facilitating outreach projects he has become more passionate about pursuing his language skills since he has been home. He claimed, “I’m always practicing my speaking and listening skills every chance I get.” Rohan mirrored these sentiments and added, “It’s helped me to maintain my language skills and not forget the culture and the value the experience holds with me.”