Hailey Dickson is an alumna of the 2015 CLS Hindi program in Jaipur, India. She is an Arizona native and is currently in her second year at the University of Arizona, where she majors in biological anthropology and public health and minors in physiology and intercultural studies. She spends a good chunk of her time trying to explain to people what “bioanthropology” is, in addition to researching maternal and child health, writing for the newspaper, and daydreaming about returning to India.
I have been interested in the languages and cultures of South Asia from a very young age. I was drawn to India specifically because, as an aspiring global health professional, I find it fascinating that much of India lies at the crossroads of technological innovation and burgeoning development. This makes India a very suitable place to pursue a career in public health research and projects. With a Master’s in Public Health or a PhD in Medical Anthropology, I plan to live and work in India for some period of time, and I will use my Hindi skills to undertake health research and become involved in community projects there. I would also like to use Hindi domestically to help the US improve its communication with India in terms of global health and migrant health.
CLS allowed me to make massive language gains, which I would not have been able to do at my own university. In a single summer, I went from speaking virtually no Hindi to being able to carry out full conversations both in the classroom and in daily life. Learning to communicate with such a new and different part of the world truly broadened my horizons, both linguistically and personally. Of course, there’s always more to learn! On my very last day in India, I made the rounds around Jaipur to exchange farewells with all my new friends. I kept telling everyone how sad I was to leave. I got some strange looks, but attributed them to the fact that I was pretty emotional. I realized later that I had mixed up the words dhookh and bhookh…instead of saying “I feel sad,” I was saying “I am hungry” all day long! It looks like I’ve still got a lot to learn.
In a word…
My favorite Hindi phrase is: aap meri aankh ki baal hai. It means “you are the apple of my eye.” Literal translation: “you are my eyelash.”
A second family
I loved living with a local family and being fully immersed in language and culture from the household onwards. While being able to travel around and explore was a blast, my most valuable experiences came from staying in one place and forming true connections with Jaipur and my host family. Some of my best memories are definitely the little routine things I engaged in every day with my host mom and dad. I love the thought that I now have a second family across the world. Seeing the complexities of everyday life in India was a constant learning experience, and it inspired me to commit myself more fully to asking questions, keeping an open mind, and trying to understand the culture more fully when I return.
If you had one day in India…
Explore Jaipur’s old city and all its wonderful bazaars! Shopping in Indian markets is pretty thrilling and you may get addicted to the bargaining. You also have to see at least one Bollywood blockbuster in theaters—it’s such a fun experience.
Words of wisdom
CLS can be intimidating, and it may seem sometimes like all of your peers are way cooler or more accomplished than you are. Remember: you were chosen for CLS for a reason! Keep that in mind and constantly remind yourself why you truly want to master your target language. That perspective will open you to new opportunities and a fuller experience.