Hindi in Australia? No problem, say students
TIM BLIGHT reports.
Up to 150 students, teachers, family and friends converged on Singh’s Indian Restaurant in East Brunswick, Melbourne on November 20 for the 17th annual Hindi Niketan function. The lavish dinner was to felicitate students who graduated in Hindi in last year’s Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE). The event was attended by Mr Rakesh Kawra, Vice Consul of the Indian Consulate in Melbourne.
Amarpreet Kaur was named as the top-ranking Hindi student at the function. A beaming Ms Kaur spoke of her motivation to study Hindi saying, “I really wanted to continue Hindi as a subject – I loved studying Hindi back in India, so I wanted to continue that.” Originally from Delhi, Amarpreet’s family migrated to Australia two years ago. In second place was Ketan Mishra who also migrated from India recently, and was proud of his effort. “It was tough in the beginning, but I settled in well and enjoyed it,” said a humble Mr Mishra. Third-ranked Juhi Piparaiya also attended the function, chatting and laughing with friends and family.
Hindi Niketan is an organisation supporting students who study Hindi as a subject in their final year at school in Victoria. Based in Melbourne, the body promotes awareness and study programmes for India’s national language which has been attracting increasing numbers of students in recent years. Hindi Niketan’s programme coordinator, Dr Sharad Gupta, kicked off the evening by welcoming the graduates and their families, before Mrs Anushree Jain sang Saraswati Vandana.
Mrs Jain, a teacher at the Blackburn campus of the Victorian School of Lanugages (VSL) for ten years, is passionate about teaching the language. “I love teaching the language and the culture – especially dance,” she revealed. Also fond of dance and cultural studies was Alka Keshari, a teacher at the Sunshine campus of VSL. “Learning the language is only half of it – to experience and understand the language you also have to understand the culture,” she said. “We have several cultural lessons as well, which tie in with the study of the language.” Mrs Keshari described the school kabbadi tournament held that morning. “We had so much fun – everyone had a blast,” she said with a laugh.
Speaking with Manjeet Thethi, VSL’s Hindi coordinator and a Hindi teacher of twenty years, she revealed that VSL were planning to open more Hindi courses in 2011 for students at Bayside, North Altona, Beacon Hills and Shepparton. This adds to the five VSL centres which already offer Hindi as a VCE course, located in Blackburn, Dandenong, Glen Waverley, Sunshine and Mill Park. This year sees 32 students studying Hindi at VCE level, with ten teachers across the board.
Mrs Thethi and Hindi Niketan President Samsher Singh presented the 2009 Hindi VCE students with their awards before the top three-ranked students were announced to rapturous applause. Also featured on the night was a dance performance by the talented Ms Juhi Pandya, poetry recitals by Mr Rajender Chopra and Mr Harihar Jha, and songs and entertainment by Mr Prabhakar Agraja and Sandeep. A sumptuous dinner was served and the students opened up about their experiences as Hindi students in Australia.