During this year’s University of Michigan’s Asian Languages and Cultures (ALC) graduation ceremony in April 2023, the Center for South Asian Studies (CSAS) awarded the first-ever set of South Asian Languages Video Awards to highlight students' work in South Asian languages and help promote the language programs beyond campus.

“It’s a great pleasure for me to present these awards,” says Matt Hull, director of CSAS. “It’s so important to recognize the outstanding work of students and faculty in the language program.” 

ALC’s South Asian Language Program offers Bengali, Hindi, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Urdu courses. Their goal is to help develop language skills and cultural and regional awareness. Students in the South Asian language classes are asked to work in groups of 3 or 4 and produce a short video to showcase what they learned during the semester for their final project. The video project is worth 10 percent of their total grade. 

“This project gives students the opportunity to practice, develop and master their language skills,” says Director of the South Asian Language Program Syed Ekhteyar Ali. “It is also useful as they learn from their peers and understand the challenges and importance of collaboration.”

“We feel this is a wonderful way to showcase their learning outcomes. They choose specific themes and create the story to show their mastery over the vocabulary, and control on a variety of structures and grammar usage in contexts,” adds Ali. “These videos are in a way documentations of their performances and we also use them to reflect upon our teaching methods and styles.”

The twelve best videos (one from each class) are selected and reviewed by a panel of judges outside the language department for the CSAS South Asian Language Video Awards. This year’s judges included Swapnil Rai from the U-M Department of Film, Television, and Media, Joyojeet Pal from the School of Information, and Stephen Rush from the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. In addition to the recognition, the students received a cash prize from CSAS of $300 for the winning video and $100 for an honorable mention.

The 2023 SAL Video Award for Best Movie went to second-year Urdu’s Murder Mystery by Zahra Basha, Iman Kadwani, Aleezah Manzoor, and Minahil Raheel. In this video, the students are invited to a mysterious party. Once they arrive, the lights go out, and they find the body of a girl they recognize from Urdu class. They all decide to work together and investigate what could have happened to her.

Honorable Mentions were given to second-year Hindi’s Adesh’s Birthday Party by Rishi Baronia, Vinamra Swaroop, Adesh Urval, and Ashwin Vivekanandan, and Advanced Urdu’s Meeting with the Soul of a Poet by Maria Khan, Zoha Khan, and Maryam Malik.

In Adesh’s Birthday Party, Adesh invites everyone to his party, where a very unexpected event occurs.

In Meeting the Soul of a Poet, the students are working on a paper on famous Pakistani poet Parveen Shakir but hit a roadblock. To help, they summon her spirit and learn some important lessons during the interview.

Please visit the CSAS YouTube channel to view the award-winning videos.