Many of the students found the Kannada course to be the most challenging. We learned basic conversational phrases, as well as words like swalpa (less) and idu beku (I want this), which are useful at mealtimes in the canteen. Our professor also had a few simple songs for us to learn, making the class more participative and fun. As with any language, the best way to learn is to practice as much as possible with native speakers. The locals get very excited when they find out we can speak some Kannada.
The course topics were highly relevant to our experiences here, as well as to our individual projects. One remarkable aspect of studying and exploring in India is that once we learn about a particular topic, we see the direct and indirect implications of it simply by being out in the community. One morning, we had a session on domestic violence with a female police officer. Just a few hours later, we visited a women’s shelter called Shaktidhama, where we heard the stories of some of the residents.
All of the professors at VIIS are amazing individuals. Even though many of them are highly acclaimed scholars, each one is very humble and has a clear passion for teaching. All have shared so much wisdom from years in the field and are very welcoming to our questions and curiosities, or “doubts,” as an Indian would say.