Critical Language Scholarship Program | Aarzu Maknojia
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Aarzu Maknojia

Reflect­ing on the ways in which her South Asian her­itage inter­sect­ed with her expe­ri­ence on the CLS Pro­gram, Aarzu Makno­jia (Urdu 2018) said, Learn­ing Urdu in Luc­know as a her­itage speak­er was a chal­leng­ing expe­ri­ence. There was a con­stant hum of being too Indi­an’ to enjoy the ben­e­fits of an Amer­i­can pass­port, but also being too Amer­i­can to enjoy the ben­e­fits of being com­plete­ly a part of the community. 

Grow­ing up in this lim­i­nal space wasn’t par­tic­u­lar­ly new. Grow­ing up as the daugh­ter of immi­grants in Texas and as an Ismaili Mus­lim in a Sun­ni major­i­ty city, exist­ing in spaces where I didn’t quite belong was nor­mal. How­ev­er, it was still dif­fi­cult. How­ev­er, I felt like by final­ly return­ing to my ances­tors’ home­land, I would final­ly fit in com­plete­ly some­where. Of course, this was both a roman­ti­cized and naïve per­spec­tive. There are as many opin­ions as there are people. 

My time in India taught me that while I can help oth­ers under­stand my expe­ri­ences and I can work to under­stand oth­ers’, only I can com­plete­ly under­stand and accept my iden­ti­ties. With the guid­ance of my excel­lent teach­ers, my back­ground of the lan­guage and cul­ture, and my thought­ful and under­stand­ing friends, I was able to achieve my lan­guage goals and learn more about myself in the process.”

Aarzu par­tic­i­pat­ed in the CLS Urdu pro­gram in 2018 as an under­grad­u­ate stu­dent at George Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty. She is now a is a Junior Asso­ciate at Strate­gic Mar­ket­ing Inno­va­tions, pur­su­ing a Mas­ter of Pub­lic Pol­i­cy at George Mason University.


Alumni Profiles

Aarzu Maknojia
Aarzu Maknojia
Urdu 2018
Lucknow, India

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Posted Date

May 20, 2021