CHL Student Buzz: Meet Ben Barron…

17th April 2021

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Student, Bachelor of International Security Studies with a double-minor in Hindi and India Studies

Imagine yourself on the banks of the Ganges River, the smell of incense filling the air and your surroundings abuzz with vernacular conversations in Hindi. Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could join in the banter? Ben Barron definitely wanted to participate actively, as he was drawn to the language and the desire to truly connect with the local people. He recounts his journey with Hindi and India so far…

“One of my favourite words in Hindi is प्रयाग (Prayag), which refers to the confluence of two or more rivers. Such places are sacred in Hindu traditions, and on my last trip to India, I was fortunate enough to visit Devprayag, which is one of the holy पंच प्रयाग (Five Prayag) and the site where the Bhagirathi and the Alaknanda rivers merge to form the Ganga.”

1. Tell us a bit about yourself—what you do currently and what you studied or are studying.

I am an undergraduate student at ANU who enjoys learning about the world and the diverse array of people and cultures that inhabit it. I have been fortunate enough to spend a significant period travelling, interning, and volunteering in South Asia and am now forging an academic specialisation in the region. I am currently completing a Bachelor of International Security Studies with a double-minor in Hindi and India Studies in pursuit of these interests!

2. What drew you to Hindi?

While several factors shaped my path towards learning Hindi, probably the most significant is my ever-deepening love of, and fascination with India. I first visited when I was fifteen, and I plan to continue engaging with the region throughout my life. Although India is relatively easy to travel through while only speaking English, I felt there was so much to learn and experience that would be forever closed to me without learning a local language. There are numerous Indian languages—all of which interest me—but I thought Hindi would be particularly useful considering it is the most widely spoken, especially in the north.

3. What are your top 3 favourite things about your language program at ANU?

Firstly, the tutors are excellent. They are incredibly patient and encouraging, which is very helpful while struggling through something challenging. Secondly, the classes are interactive with lots of opportunities to practice—rather than passively absorbing lectures. Thirdly, the course material has been structured in a way that not only teaches you Hindi but also provides broader insights into how Indian society functions.

4. Can you name 3 reasons for people to study Hindi?

Firstly, it is a beautiful language in which you can express concepts and emotions that are difficult to capture in English—at least with a comparable depth of meaning. Secondly, it opens a window into Indian culture and society. Thirdly, not only are there hundreds of millions of Hindi speakers in India, but the Indian diaspora is enormous, so you can find people who can speak the language all over the world. This gives you plenty of opportunities to practice and make friends!

5. How does it help, or has it helped, you in your profession or in life?

By far, the most rewarding outcome has been being able to build relationships with a range of people while travelling in India, many of whom I would not have been able to speak with otherwise.

6. Can you share one fascinating or fun fact about Hindi, or something you find particularly incredible about the language?

India’s historical experience is inherent within the language. For example, the Mughal influence over the subcontinent is reflected in the amount of Persian vocabulary commonly used in daily conversion.

7. What are your future plans with respect to Hindi or any other language?

I will continue studying Hindi after graduating from the ANU, and hopefully, travel restrictions ease so I can return to India. Ultimately, I would like to get as close to fluent as possible, but it is a lifelong journey, and I am under no illusions regarding the time and commitment required.

I think Hindi will keep me busy for a long time, so I don’t expect to start learning another language until I reach a high level of proficiency. However, I am particularly drawn to the Himalayan region, so I might consider learning Tibetan or Nepali some day in the future.

8. Anything else you’d like to share? An interesting anecdote about your study of the language perhaps?

One of my favourite words in Hindi is प्रयाग (Prayag), which refers to the confluence of two or more rivers. Such places are sacred in Hindu traditions, and on my last trip to India, I was fortunate enough to visit Devprayag, which is one of the holy पंच प्रयाग (Five Prayag) and the site where the Bhagirathi and the Alaknanda rivers merge to form the Ganga.

Whether Hindi is directly related to your chosen career path or it just interests you as a language, take the learning pathway that Ben has and broaden your horizons, culturally, spiritually and professionally. Enquire now!

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