Meet Zara, Hindi lecturer

Hello! I’m Zara Chowdhary and I’m a writer, a media and performance arts professional, and ALC’s very own Hindi Lecturer. I’m born and raised in Ahmedabad, a ​600-year-old city in western India, got my BSc in Visual Communication in Chennai on the southern coast, a Masters in Writing for Performance from the University of Leeds (2009) and another master’s in creative and environmental writing from Iowa State University (2020). I’ve been in Madison since 2020, in the US since 2017, and before that I worked as a screenwriter and producer in Mumbai for about twelve years.

Experience in the ALC department: I  call myself a “pandemic hire” since I arrived here almost concurrently with Covid. My first year was fully virtual and there was understandably limited social interaction. But since Fall 2021 it’s been so lovely running into people in the elevators, watching the amazing diversity of students, staff and faculty that fill these halls, stopping to read through the posters of the incredible range of courses we teach here. Even though I spent most of my own graduate student career working primarily in the English language, being at ALC reminds me of the wealth of understanding that remains to be imbibed from non-dominant languages and cultures, especially as we learn to speak more fluently on topics of environment, race, representation and equity.

Language: Language to me runs like a river through a delta, fed by so many histories, splitting into so many contemporary realities. One of the first things that drew me to this position was our department’s clarity on Hindi and Urdu’s symbiotic relationship in the subcontinent. Similarly, I feel honored to be teaching alongside fellow language educators who rise above regional linguistic politics and view language as a meaning-making and community-building project.

Over the last two semesters I’ve been trying to further that value through courses beyond basic conversational proficiency in the advanced Hindi classroom. My students make connections between a film’s screenplay, musical traditions of oppressed groups, Hindustani protest poetry in translation, they read ethnographic essays on caste and environment and hidden economies–– materials that make the idea that “language is more than a means of communication” more tangible and concrete to understand. My hope is that in years to come, even more students will be drawn to our languages, to understand Asia beyond its historical representation in western film and media, as a living, breathing, tapestry of societies in flux, just as the US and other western societies are; and that studying a shifting, changing Asia can have a direct, real-time impact on what students may be studying in their STEM,  humanities, fine art or other majors.

Meet Runqi, new Japanese major

Hi everyone, My name is Runqi Zhu and I am an international student from China. I am in my junior year at UW-Madison majoring in biology and Japanese. I have always been amazed by the historical depth and diversity of the Asian community, and would love to learn more about it during my undergraduate years. I have taken 4 semesters of Japanese and plan on learning more about Asian languages and cultures. It is my pleasure to join the community!

Meet Philip, Chinese major

I am a junior from Washington, D.C. majoring in Economics and Chinese. I started learning Mandarin in middle school and did not expect the impact it would have on my life. Since I first learned how to write “人”  I have had the opportunity to visit China twice which cemented my decision to major in Chinese studies here at UW. The classes within the ALC department from Chinese film to business Chinese have kept me engaged in my studies and my interest in the Chinese language from fading. From CLACC events and Chinese Table to research opportunities, the ALC department is full of ways to get involved in whichever area of language studies you choose. Philip Hesse

Meet Emilia, new Japanese Professional Communication Certificate

My name is Emilia Deino. I am a sophomore majoring in Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences and minoring in Japanese. During high school, my dad and I went to Tokyo for one summer vacation. I was amazed by the tasty food, culture, and especially the complex language. This sparked my interest in learning Japanese, so I took private lessons in Japanese for three years of high school. When I came to UW-Madison, I knew that I wanted to continue studying Japanese, so I took 3rd, 4th, and  5th semester Japanese. Currently, I am a member of Japanese House in the International Learning Community at Adams Residence Hall. I cannot wait to continue learning Japanese and connecting with other members of the ALC department!