I was first introduced to Samskritam seven years ago when I went to Ahmedabad for the summer with my family. My father read an article in the newspaper about a college professor who taught Samskritam. My father knew that Samskritam is an extremely important language, as it is the root of almost all Indian languages, and is the language that all ancient Hindu scriptures are written in.
So, he started Samskritam classes with the professor for my sister and me. I studied in India for a month, and learned a lot, but didn’t have much interest in the language. When I came back to the US, I continued with another teacher, and learned much more in depth grammar and literature. I didn’t start loving the language until I got involved with Samskrita Bharati. After I went to residential youth and family camps, such as Shraddhaa and Jaahnavii, I was able to speak much better Samskritam and I had fun learning the language. The camps not only taught Spoken Samskritam and grammar, but also helped me create good relationships with other people interested in the language.
I decided to join the Samskritam as a Foreign Language (SAFL) program, because it would be a good way for me to continue learning Samskritam throughout the school year. At first, I thought that the class would be very easy because I had been learning Samskritam for a while. However, I still learned many new things in the class and had to work very hard to maintain good grades. The classes are at a fixed time for one hour on the weekend, and thus the class usually does not interfere with school or any other activities. Students can speak up on the phone and all of the assignments and lessons are shown on the computer.
Also, the teachers are great because they make sure every student understands the concepts and participates in the class. An appropriate amount of homework is given each week. In addition, there are midterm and final exams, which help review all the topics covered in the semester. The fact that grades are given really motivates the students to study hard and complete all the assignments properly and on time. Furthermore, there are group projects given, which are fun, help improve creative ability in Samskritam, and build better relationships with the other students in the class.
I’m glad that I chose to participate in the SAFL program, as it has made me more dedicated to learning the language and has made Samskritam a part of my daily life. The SAFL course has really helped me improve my Samskritam and is a wonderful program to join!
(Neil Davey is currently a 9th grader at Wootton High School in Rockville, MD and a third year student in the SAFL program).