Konversation with Hindi Teacher Geetanjali Dhar

Konversation with Hindi Teacher Geetanjali Dhar

Konversation with Hindi Teacher Geetanjali Dhar

76652010_10157815040339468_5778685811650199552_o-300x200 Konversation with Hindi Teacher Geetanjali DharThis week’s Konversation is with Global Small Business (GSB) partner Geetanjali Dhar, founder of Hindi language school Sanskriti Global, based in Hong Kong and Singapore. Geetanjali was AmCham Women of Influence’s 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year and is transforming Hindi language learning. Anyone looking to learn Hindi in a fun and innovative way should no doubt take a session with Geetanjali or any of Sanskriti Global’s other talented teachers on Konversai. In the 15 years since Geetanjali founded Sanskriti Global, it has changed the lives of thousands of students who can now speak Hindi. In the interview below, learn more about Geetanjali, how her passion for empowering youth fueled her to get Sanskriti Global off the ground, the unique teaching methods that Sanskriti Global uses, and the lessons she has learned from her students.

sanskriti-1024x768-1-300x225 Konversation with Hindi Teacher Geetanjali DharKonversai: For our readers who are not familiar, what is Sanskriti Global? What do you offer?

Geetanjali: Sanskriti Global is a Hindi language school focused on bridging the gap between children of expatriates and their linguistic roots. It emphasizes each child’s holistic development and connection to Indian culture as a whole. The curriculum was developed in-house for children of all ages abroad and has connected kids to their culture and to other first-generation immigrant children to share their unique experiences together.

82572821_2921336397909800_8725363702640934912_o-225x300 Konversation with Hindi Teacher Geetanjali DharKonversai: What inspired you to start Sanskriti Global?

Geetanjali: I came to Hong Kong 20 years back. When I accompanied by kids to various activities, I noticed that other communities were sticking to their language. For example, the Germans were speaking German, the French were speaking French. The misconception that everyone in Hong Kong speaks English was shattered. And this was a very pleasant surprise. But I noticed that none of the Indians were speaking Hindi or their languages. And I got a real shock. Because if you’re in India, it doesn’t strike you. Hindi and English are both okay. Our children are rolling stones. They gather every other language and adapt to every other culture, and we have slowly eroded our own. Our generation is okay, but our next generation is totally lost. Children will not be able to understand Hindi movies without subtitles. So I quit my job and said I’ll do this.

I’ve always been an entrepreneur, and I saw this was a huge need—the need is for a properly developed, professionally thought-out program. There was a demand, but at least wherever I visited, there was no proper pathway leading from one level to the other. I was a hospitality trainer by background. When I came here, I got accredited as a teacher with the Hong Kong Education Bureau. I researched for about six months. One of my strengths is curriculum development. I spoke to various professors and teachers and developed this curriculum for Sanskriti. I looked at how people were learning other languages, and this set the blueprint for Sanskriti.

65089634_2492457440797700_4700495952014737408_o-300x200 Konversation with Hindi Teacher Geetanjali DharKonversai: How many students have you served to date?

Geetanjali: In the past 15 years, over 6000 students.

Konversai: What do you believe sets Sanskriti Global apart from other language schools?

Geetanjali: I haven’t come across any other Hindi program that caters to the child studying Hindi in international environment. Selling Hindi to an Indian is very difficult. But our pricing is competitive. The curriculum was developed based on how students are learning other languages. All books, CDs, and other materials have been developed from scratch. There is no photocopied material. And it is regularly updated and continuously improving, because we are also learning.

64467021_2492459317464179_4486733445417926656_o-300x200 Konversation with Hindi Teacher Geetanjali DharUnlike traditional Hindi classes, our program is catered to international students. Learning is hands-on. There are lots of projects, games, and quizzes. We also have cultural immersion platforms. For example, we have a regional drawing competition for our calendar. This year’s theme is classical dances of India. Not Bollywood dance, but traditional regional dances. The children have gone on the Internet, looked up the different regional dances, and drawn them themselves. Then they included a written description with a history of that dance. Last year, the theme was sports. They drew their favorite sports and connected it with a famous Indian player of that sport. Other activities include an annual Hindi speaking competition, spelling bee, debate, Sanskriti Idol, and Sanskriti Mela. So the children are always on their toes.

82498931_2816296545098370_1049850286731952128_n-300x225 Konversation with Hindi Teacher Geetanjali DharKonversai: What aspects of running Sanskriti Global would you delegate to someone else?

Geetanjali: I have always loved children. I love the classes, teaching the children, and curriculum development. I will always be there to oversee the curriculum and instruction no matter where the program is launched. When I launched, the amount of administrative work was overwhelming. So I outsourced accounts, auditing, secretarial services, social media, marketing, the website, and follow-up for payment.

I also found that there were no resources available for Hindi. Not even in India. So we created our own flashcards. And we had to make sure the images we put on them were global and showcased in a modern way. Our flashcards are beautiful. So for example, we have one of a woman in a sari, but it’s a very trendy-looking sari. And these are challenges for me, because my strengths are curriculum development and teaching. So I delegated the actual design of the flashcards to someone whose strength it was.

81876406_2816296485098376_2288907691172560896_n-300x225 Konversation with Hindi Teacher Geetanjali DharKonversai: What are you most looking forward to as a GSB member?

Geetanjali: I would love to be a pioneer in spreading Hindi worldwide. It is such a great honor. When we launched in Singapore, I was told Singapore has so much Hindi, that it’s not like Hong Kong. But the segment we are catering to in Singapore, no one is catering to that segment. And it’s a huge segment. So I would love to be known as “the brand” for Hindi. Like Apple is for phones, I want Sanskriti to be that for Hindi. I want to be someone who brought Hindi learning to the international audience. I want Sanskriti to be associated with high-quality Hindi learning. That said, I don’t want to spread too quickly. I have had parents who have moved to other countries come to me and say they want to launch Sanskriti there. And I am so grateful to such parents who want to carry Sanskriti wherever they go. But I want to spread strategically without compromising quality of instruction.

1ad5395e-bbbc-4bf6-b33a-993c558ac8e4-300x225 Konversation with Hindi Teacher Geetanjali DharKonversai: If you were given a time machine, where would you go, and what would you do?

Geetanjali: I would have launched Sanskriti and my entrepreneurial career much earlier. Because it took me three to four years to crystalize the idea, so I would have started sooner. When I started my career, I went into hotels and hospitality. I would have chosen a career in which I was dealing with children right from the beginning.

Konversai: If you could have dinner with any famous person, living or dead, who would you choose and why?

Geetanjali: Richard Branson and Jack Ma. Both started their empires from zero—literally from the ground up. Having read Richard Branson’s books has made a big difference in my thinking. I’ve learned that you can do whatever you want and do it with style. When I started Sanskriti, I kept pricing at a certain level. I said I have to do it my way for the children. The children have to feel good. And people have slowly come around. If you are confident about your product, then you launch it the way you want to launch it. Most of the time, the client looks at your confidence, how well your know your product, and how persistent you are. That’s what I found in Richard Branson. And Jack Ma is very inspirational. I love his quotes. And I would love to learn how he exited from his business—how he came out of Alibaba and went into other things. I would love to sit with both of these men and exchange ideas.

37272297_1994522293924553_3808884398045003776_o-300x263 Konversation with Hindi Teacher Geetanjali DharKonversai: You wake up on the set of The Transformers, and all your electronics walked out. How are you going to spend your day?

Geetanjali: I would sit with children. Talking to them is so wonderful. You get to look at life from their eyes—their wonder, their amazement. And it has to be felt. It is amazing how children look at things. I always incorporate children’s thoughts and ideas into my lessons. For example, in Hindi, we have matras (representing the “i” and “ee” sounds). I was teaching one little boy the matras, and he said, “Oh, this is like a candy cane!” So now we use candy canes when talking about matras. Another student said the “oo” and “u” symbols are “like commas doing situps and planks.” I love interacting with children of any age, and I am grateful for the opportunity to do so, because it helps me relive my children’s life stages over and over again, so I don’t have to miss my own children too much.

64724628_2492459684130809_2783223899700068352_o-300x200 Konversation with Hindi Teacher Geetanjali DharKonversai: What are the best words of wisdom you have received from a child?

One day, I was feeling overwhelmed. A four-year-old came up to me and said, “You’re not laughing today! What happened?” I explained to her that I was feeling busy and overwhelmed, and she said, “Mrs. Dhar, don’t worry. It will be okay.”

Screen-Shot-2020-02-05-at-3.28.19-PM-212x300 Konversation with Hindi Teacher Geetanjali DharIf you or someone you know wants to learn Hindi and have fun doing it, don’t wait another second to connect with Geetanjali or another Sanskriti teacher on Konversai—a global knowledge platform that allows for one-on-one live video conversations with anyone, anywhere, about anything. Knowledge providers on the platform have the opportunity to make extra money sharing the things they know and love, while knowledge seekers can enjoy personalized sessions with a live human being catered to exactly what they’re looking to learn on any topic. Sessions are scheduled at times that are mutually convenient for both parties, and neither has to leave the comfort of their home.  All users are encouraged to both knowledge providers and knowledge seekers on any and as many topics as they wish. Any and all knowledge, skills, and experiences have a place on Konversai—the only limit is your imagination. Konversai’s mission is to democratize knowledge, put the human connection back into the heart of technology, and make the world better by enabling meaningful and authentic conversations that can improve people’s lives. Don’t miss the opportunity to be part of realizing this mission. Join Konversai today!

Edited by Pavita Singh

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