Maya, a Winter 2024 Virtual NSLI-Y Hindi student, is a high school junior from Orlando, Florida. In her free time, she plays tennis and violin.

As a person of Indian descent, I would like to be of service to the global Indian community in any way that I can. In fact, I am currently pursuing a Girl Scout Gold Award project that focuses on improving vision health in South India. When I began researching the prevalence of worldwide vision impairment, I was inspired to create a project that impacts my family's ancestral community of Chennai, India. I am collecting hundreds of eyeglasses that will be distributed in an underserved community and partnering with a local ophthalmologist to provide vision screenings and new lenses. I am building my skills in Hindi with Virtual NSLI-Y to help me better connect with the community I aim to serve.

While researching different study abroad opportunities in India, I came across NSLI-Y. I was intrigued by the cultural and language immersion NSLI-Y offered. I decided to apply to Virtual NSLI-Y to launch myself head-on into learning the Hindi language. I also applied to NSLI-Y study abroad because I plan to work in India after college and want that firsthand experience being fully immersed in Hindi learning and Indian culture.

My Virtual NSLI-Y experience has been amazing. My instructor makes each session interactive, and all my peers are friendly. The most memorable activity so far has been when our guest speaker Varsha taught us dance moves from the Indian dance styles of Garba and Bhangra. I can’t wait to show them off at different Indian events! I also enjoyed participating in Virtual NSLI-Y's Student Group Meetings, where I was able to meet students from the other Virtual NSLI-Y cohorts. We bonded over shared hobbies and our love for language learning.

Outside of the fun and fulfilling portions of the program, I have had a difficult time memorizing all the Hindi consonants. I am using different study tools like Quizlet flashcards to reach my goals. I also practice Hindi with my dad, who is a fluent Hindi speaker. After each Virtual NSLI-Y session, I take the time to sit down with him and speak all the new phrases I learned. This was especially helpful after we learned Hindi “Classroom Phrases.”

After completing Virtual NSLI-Y, I want to continue studying Hindi and other South Asian languages in college, eventually reaching fluency. I am excited to combine my interests in language learning and global business in college!

For any new Virtual NSLI-Y student, my advice is to take advantage of every opportunity this program gives you. Participate in every session and don’t be scared to ask questions. Everyone in the program is approachable and kind. Make sure to attend the Student Group Meetings and stay active in the discussions. I have met so many cool people and enhanced my Hindi learning journey, just from actively participating.