The mention of India brings to mind images of bustling cities like Mumbai, beautifully constructed Hindu temples, and the glitz of Bollywood, but our Hindi FLTA Stuti Benal is here to disperse the typical stereotypes of the Indian people. As a personal example of the diversity of India, Stuti hails from the sleepy town of Solan, nestled away in the Shivalik Hills of the Himalaya mountains. Famous for its ornate temples, huge tomato production, and vast network of mushroom farms, Solan does not lack character, despite what its size or location would imply. Stuti’s childhood was filled with the calming presence of the mountains and lazy afternoons of sitting in the sun bonding with family and friends. At the young age of 18, Stuti left Solan behind to pursue greater dreams of travel, and previous to her language education journey, journalism.
Stuti completed her bachelor's degree in English at Panjab University, with coursework specializing in public administration and economics. Reflecting on her time in school before university, her ability to learn other languages, and her passion for reading, Stuti knew that pursuing languages was the correct path for her. Following her undergraduate studies, she enrolled in a masters program for journalism, and interned for a national magazine. Her internship experiences included conducting interviews, managing social media accounts, and even producing a documentary. With Stuti’s desire to see the world, her acceptance of her next big opportunity was inevitable - teaching English in France.
Language reflects the cultural differences of different societies, and teaching Hindi is perhaps the most authentic glimpse into Indian culture without any travel.
She began to more seriously pursue teaching languages after her time in France, and began to teach French in India. As she continued to find fulfillment in teaching, Stuti began another masters degree, this time in English. This ultimately led her to the Fulbright scholarship and her placement in South Bend.
Stuti spends her time at Notre Dame teaching Hindi classes, taking classes about language education methods and Spanish, and spreading her home culture through presentations hosted by the CSLC. While she misses the mountains of Solan, she has grown fond of Notre Dame’s beautiful campus and vibrant students.
Despite her activity-filled days, Stuti did not waver when she spoke of her love for teaching. She views the classroom as an opportunity for cultural exchange, where she not only teaches about her language and culture, but where she gets to learn how Notre Dame students see the world. This sharing of knowledge helps her think critically about her own views and her place in the world.
Teaching languages has given Stuti the opportunity to give her students a new view of the world. One of her favorite feelings is the “aha” moment her students have when her lessons begin to click and seeing her students excited and invested in studying Hindi. “Language reflects the cultural differences of different societies, and teaching Hindi is perhaps the most authentic glimpse into Indian culture without any travel.”
Stuti was honest about the fact that learning a language is no easy feat. She said her best advice for students struggling is to be consistent in your learning, in whatever form that might take. The best way to learn languages is through complete immersion, and motivation to stay immersed in grammar textbooks is nearly impossible. “Find songs, movies, or TV shows in your target language, and stay consistent with the practice!”
Closing our interview together, Stuti gave an insightful reflection on the part of Indian culture that she wants to spread while she travels. In her hometown, there is a close sense of community and duty to your neighbor. The communities in the foothills come together to support sick members, and Hindu and Sikh temples have “free kitchens” that serve meals to any hungry mouth that arrives.
The CSLC is proud to offer classes for the Spring 2023 semester. Stuti will be teaching Beginning Hindi I, Beginning Hindi II, and Intermediate Hindi I. For more information, reach out to Stutie at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the CSLC. You can learn more about Hindi and other less commonly taught languages (LCTLs) on the LCTL information page.
About the CSLC
The CSLC is dedicated to the advancement of linguistic proficiency and cultural awareness for students, staff, faculty, and spouses in all languages across the Notre Dame community. If you would like to learn more about studying languages and cultures, Fulbright programs for Notre Dame Students, or cultural events sponsored by the many groups at Notre Dame, visit the CSLC website, or call (574) 631-5881.
Luke Van de Walle (‘24) is a political science and global affairs major who specializes in current event writing and conducting interviews.
Featured image photographed by Lena Shadow ('24), a sociology and global affairs major who specializes in media production, photography, and editing.