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KU Student wins in 10th annual Yale Hindi Debate

Thursday, May 04, 2017


LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures and the Center for Global & International Studies have announced that Daniel Lee Theisen, a third-year student studying Hindi at KU, has won the prestigious Yale University Hindi debate in the “Non-Native, Non-Heritage” category.

Held annually on Yale’s campus, the debate competition is for speakers of all levels of Hindi. KU was represented by Theisen, a senior from Overland Park in neurobiology, and Sanjay Vijay Parashar, senior from Leawood in cellular biology. Patrica Sabarwal, Hindi instructor at KU, and Amanpreet Sawhney, visiting Fulbright Scholar from India, served as chaperones. 

Theisen excelled in the competition, edging out his Ivy League competitors.

"The Yale Hindi debate was an absolutely fantastic experience. I learned that it takes one set of skills to speak in a foreign language, but it takes an entirely different set of skills to give a speech,” Theisen said. "I attribute most of my success at the debate to my Hindi professor, Patrica Sabarwal. She teaches Hindi in a very personal way.

Sabarwal said the debate is a unique opportunity for students of Hindi language.

"It provides a platform for the students to showcase their skills and their love for the foreign language,” she said. “At the same time, it helps establish a community of Hindi language learners who transcend their own communal boundaries and form ties with language learners from the other universities."

Sprung from student initiative, the Yale Hindi Debate grew beyond the Yale community, and in its 10th edition, the debate drew participants from Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, NYU, Cornell, UCLA, Wesleyan, Purdue, Rutgers, the University of Texas at Austin and Wellesley College. 

Photo: From left, Sanjay Vijay, Amanpreet Sawhney, Daniel Theisen and Patrica Sabarwal.


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The School of Languages & Cultures serves as a gateway to understanding the diversity of the world, through learning languages, literatures, and cultures, past and present. Through its research and teaching, the SLLC offers students opportunities for deep engagement with a wide range of languages, literatures, and cultures that provide the knowledge and skills to interact with and understand the world. The faculty and students who teach, research, and learn in the SLLC consider issues of diversity fundamental to all of our work. The study of others' languages, literatures, and cultures enables us to develop deep empathy and perspective informs the way that we approach issues before us, whether on a personal, local, regional, national, or global scale. Therefore take it as axiomatic that the SLLC stands for a campus that is committed to the meaningful sharing, contemplation, and discussion of ideas that emerge from multiple cultural perspectives and experiences. We continually rededicate ourselves to the principle of diversity. We strive to create an atmosphere where all students and faculty feel comfortable and welcome to express their views as well as work together to solve conflict. Further, we view our mission as a center of diversity on a flagship campus as requiring us to lead by example.

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