Hampshire student Charlotte Giles was able to learn the basics of Urdu through resources within the Five College consortium, but when it came to digging deeper into the grammatical foundations of the language, she decided to go a little farther afield.
In summer 2008, Giles took part in an intensive language program through the American Institute for Indian Studies in Lucknow, the capital of India's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh. Urdu is the national language of Pakistan, but it is also one of the primary languages of Uttar Pradesh, which Giles first visited through the Five College Tibetan and Buddhist Studies program.
Giles was one of only a handful of undergraduates among the 40 students in the summer program. Hampshire's academic model proved helpful; as a Division II student, Giles was focused on a specific topic, as were the graduate students.
"We were reading newspapers, magazines, and literature, watching films, and speaking all the time in the language. I came back with a lot of material," says Giles.
Her topic is the study of religious issues in India and Pakistan. She plans to take an internship in Pakistan as early as January at Developments in Literacy, an organization involved in funding schools for women. She forged connections with the group after she helped raise funds, while still in high school in Houston, for victims of the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan.
Giles is continuing to learn Urdu through independent study with several native speakers living in the Pioneer Valley. After graduation from Hampshire, she hopes to return to India and Pakistan for graduate studies.