“Hindi nahin! Hindi nahin!” — the title of my first blog entry reflects the words I’ve probably said most in my 2 weeks in India. If you thought that having a mom whose first language was Hindi would result in me being able to say something more articulate than “Hindi no” in her mother tongue, you’d be wrong.
To the auto rickshaw drivers, store clerks, and random people on the street who try and speak to me in Hindi:
a) I am sorry
b) you are welcome.
I’m sorry for the confusion — I understand that I look like I should be able to speak your language.
But, you are also welcome; from the looks of amusement on your faces and bursts of laughter after I stutter “Hindi nahin” in response to your questioning, it’s clear that I brought some joy to your day.
To rewind a bit, let me introduce myself. I’m Hari, a rising senior in the College on the pre-med track majoring in Political Science. I’m interning at Leap Skills in New Delhi for the summer of 2017, along with Jodi and William.
I chose to come to India for the summer because I want to pursue a career in international development in the long term, and I think that India is uniquely placed to provide professional experiences in on-the-ground development work. As an Indian-American, I’m familiar with some of India’s cultural customs, and the prospect of experiencing the country’s rich traditions here was also really appealing to me.
Still, I did not know what to expect from living in India and working at Leap, a startup that focuses on skills enrichment and education development. I wasn’t sure if my work would fit in to my long term professional goals, and I was unconvinced that I had made the correct choice in applying to work at Leap through CASI. However, so far, I’ve found the working culture at Leap to be incredibly fun, collaborative, and productive. The office space lends itself to working together, as it consists of one large open space with tables and chairs, where anybody can sit wherever they wish. One day, I can be sitting next to one of my co-interns and the next, I can be next to the CEO.
Amusing interactions like the “Hindi nahin” ones I described above occur on a daily basis, but they don’t even come close to describing the experiences I’ve had in such a short time here. Some highlights include seeing Delhi’s famous sights, honing my skills in haggling with vendors, eating momos (Indian-Chinese dumplings) on the street with Jodi and William, and being given an impromptu Bhangra lesson when we visited one of the colleges where Leap has implemented its education programs.
The past two weeks have provided a wealth of experiences, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer holds.