“The CLS Program is what helped me form my own identity, which helped me be a better representative of both the United States and India. Growing up in an Indian household allowed me to connect to my CLS community, and foster mutual understanding.”
Avan Antia participated in the CLS Hindi program in 2015 after her sophomore year as a biology student at the University of Maryland. She was looking for a way to link language to her passion for science and interest in infectious diseases. Her family is from Mumbai and she grew up speaking Gujarati, so she also had a personal connection to India.
“I decided to apply for the Hindi program because my grandma’s neighbor in Mumbai would always tell me, ‘child, you look Indian, act Indian, but we can’t communicate each other.’ As a young girl, that really stuck with me and pushed me to learn to communicate with more people.”
Going on the CLS Program was Avan’s first time in India without her family. She was able to explore on her own and learn about the culture and infrastructure of India in a different way.
Avan and her friends at the Taj Mahal
“When I came back to the United States, I had an impact on people’s understanding of India because I had also gained a better understanding. I’m now able to explain it better to my peers and give them a clearer idea of how complex the country is, which is what makes it so beautiful.”
“The CLS Program was the catalyst for me to pursue global health and medicine, and language was what really connected me to my interests in science and medicine. I can’t explain how important my experience on the CLS Program is to me.”
After graduating, Avan got another opportunity to go abroad, this time with the American India Foundation’s Clinton Fellowship, a fellowship that sends U.S. and Indian citizens to work with NGOs in India doing development work. She was placed at the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust and Center for Herpetology, where she focused on solid waste management and conservation education in South India.
Avan is now an MD-Ph.D. candidate at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Her goal is to study infectious diseases with a focus on global health and treat patients both in the United States and abroad.
“No matter where I go, my CLS experience will always be near and dear to my heart.”
January 21, 2020