NY Consul General offers exclusive ‘Know India Program’ for STARTALK Hindi students

Franklin Township, NJ: Students in the United States enrolled in the US funded Startalk Hindi Summer Programs, will have a new opportunity to further their literacy skills: starting 2019 they could travel to India under the ‘Know India Program’, exclusively designed for them.

Making this announcement at the Graduation Event of Sangam-Franklin Startalk Hindi Program in Franklin Township, NJ, Ambassador Sandeep Chakravorty, the Consul General of India, said that the new ‘KIP’ program will be launched in the summer of 2019. He was responding to a suggestion made by Ashok Ojha, program director of the Sangam-Franklin Startalk Hindi Program. Ojha suggested that ‘Know India Program’ should be expanded to include Startalk Hindi learners so that students could continue Hindi learning in the native setting.

The Consul-General of India was speaking as the Chief Guest of the Graduation ceremony where he extended his support to promotional and educational initiatives for Hindi. He said that India is a multi-lingual country where more than two dozen languages flourish. “The Government of India was committed to support all Indian languages as they were strong vehicles for strengthening our culture and friendship with USA”, he commented. Later the Consul-General distributed completion certificates to Sangam-Franklin STARTALK Hindi Program students, most of who were born and being raised in USA. During his interaction with students the Consul-General took out the tricolor pin from his coat and presented to one of the students who had expressed interest in the tricolor pin the Consul General was wearing.

‘Know India Program’ is a three-week orientation program conducted by the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India for Diaspora youth aimed at promoting awareness about India and its accomplishments in various fields. The program provides a unique forum for students of Indian origin to visit India, share their views and experiences and to develop closer bonds with the contemporary India.

According to Ojha, Startalk, a federally funded three week summer intensive program, offers a robust summer intensive program for Hindi learners in USA where authentic audio-visual teaching material is used to provide comprehensible language and cultural input to all students. He said that Sangam-Franklin STARTALK Hindi Language and culture Camp was conducted by Hindi Sangam Foundation, a New Jersey based non-profit organization in collaboration with Franklin Township Board of Education. “During the program students performed role plays, songs and skits to present messages of unity, honesty and integrity. In groups students interviewed each other to find out their role models and what they liked about them. They created multimedia presentations related with various stories.”

A number of invited guests including Dr. John Ravally, Superintendent of Franklin Township Board of Education, Daniel Lougharn, Assistant Superintendent, Rajiv Prasad, Franklin Councilman, members of Indian-American community and parents attended the valedictory event. Mrs. Purnima Desai, Vice Chair, Hindi Sangam Foundation, presented a cultural song in praise of Hindi. She also presented certificates to students. Instructors of the program directed students to perform a variety of theatrical performances.

Ojha said that 50 Middle and High School students were enrolled in the program, out of which 36 completed. The program started on July 16 at Franklin High School, Somerset and ended on August 2, 2018. “The aim of selecting authentic material is to integrate language content and culture in all our teaching material. We provide Hindi texts in comprehensible manner so students could understand cultural products and share it with their friends in Hindi. Throughout the day we engage them into many theater based activities and enactments in order to empower them with the language and culture”, he said. Sangam-Franklin Startalk Program was launched in 2016. Since then more than one hundred students have improved their Hindi skills.

“The three week program was divided into three parts of ‘Personal and Family Stories’, ‘Cultural Stories about animals and birds’ and contemporary stories about role models, each of which was implemented in a week. Various forms of traditional storytelling such as puppetry and street performances were used by instructors during the program”, Ojha explained, “Our program is very popular among Middle and High School students where they are taught by STARTALK trained instructors. They also practice yoga during the program and experience authentic Indian meals every day.”

Ojha also directed another STARTALK program in partnership with North Penn School District in Lansdale, PA from July 18 to July 6 where he taught 45 Elementary and Middle Schools. The overarching theme of the program was, 'My virtual trip to India’. “We enrolled Heritage learners at both programs where students are engaged in varieties of language functions and learn to apply it in real life situations.

About Hindi Sangam Foundation and Yuva Hindi Sansthan: These two NJ based organizations are involved in promotion of Hindi through conferences and educational activities in USA and beyond. Ashok Ojha is the president of both organizations. He can be reached by phone on 732-318-9891 and by email: aojha2008@gmail.com

Consul-General Ambassador Sandeep Chakravorty took out the tricolor pin from his coat and presented to one of the students during the event.

India’s Consul General (third from right) Ambassador Sandeep Chakravorty attended the Valedictory Event of SANGAM-FRANKLIN STARTALK HINDI PROGRAM 2019 as the Chief Guest. The event was held on August 2, 2018, the final day of the three week program. Chakravorty announced a new ‘KIP’ program for STARTALK Hindi students starting 2019. Dr. John Ravally, Superintendent, Franklin Township Board of Eduction, also addressed the gathering. Ashok Ojha, Program Director, Sangam-Franklin STARTALK Hindi Program (second from left) presented an overview of the program while Purnima Desai, Vice-Chair, Hindi Sangam Foundation (third from left) welcomed the guests.

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