So what? - That’s the most common question in any classroom, kindergarten through twelfth grade. Math, Science, Social Studies, French, English, Latin, Spanish, German, Chinese — the list of subjects is endless, and it’s only natural for people to wonder why it’s all necessary. When will the aspiring artist ever need calculus? Why would the accountant ever need to remember historical dates? For me, math and history and even English made sense, but my choice of a foreign language —French — just seemed irrelevant to my life.
English is the language of the land, and also my primary mode of communication outside the confines of the Indian community. But what good would French do me? I couldn’t communicate with it. Its rules of grammar, filled entirely with exceptions, were miles beyond the point of confusion. More importantly, it wasn’t a subject that connected with my family in any way. Unlike all the other subjects I took at school, French wasn’t one I could come home and talk about or talk in.
So, in my senior year of high school I finally decided to do something about the subject that I was no longer being forced to take. I had spent seven years learning about someone else’s language and someone else’s culture, so that I could better understand someone else’s way of life. So why not transfer all that time, energy, and effort I put into the French class into an independent study where I could learn about my culture,
My language and learn to appreciate my way of life? After discussing with my parents and the instructors at Samskrita Bharati, I decided to start an independent study in Samskritam and make that my fourth and final year of high school foreign language.
Over the summer as this option was discussed, more and more Indian children began to appreciate it. By September, there were six students from the tiny town of Hanover, New Hampshire, who enrolled in the SAFL course from Samskrita Bharati for high school students. We even convinced our high school, which is a public school in Hanover, NH, to award us an Independent Study credit with a letter grade showing on our transcripts.
Over the course of the year, I got many comments about my decision. My family and relatives in India were delighted about my choice, and my classmates in school intrigued. Every now and then there was a friend or a teacher who would comment about my choice, wondering how it could affect my college applications or why I would choose to give up such a sure thing for “an experiment”.
However, I was not worried, and actually, things turned out very well for me. The colleges I applied to stuck true to their word, and valued my passion for Sanskrit over continuing the same foreign language for all four years of high school. I was admitted to several schools, including three Ivy League schools, and next year I will be attending Dartmouth College.
My experience has been so tremendously positive that I would like to continue studying Samskritam. With access to good teachers from Samskrita Bharati who make Samskritam learning fun and easy, why wouldn’t I?
(Sucharita Jayanti graduated from Hanover High School in June 2010 and will be attending Dartmouth College beginning Fall 2010)