From the plains of Auburn to the plains of Jaipur: Graduate student communes with history
Exotic locales, a heightened sense of adventure, the chance to glimpse ages gone by; No, this is not the opening passage of a travel diary, nor is it a tagline for a new Indiana Jones movie. These are words that describe the opportunities afforded to Auburn’s history graduate students. Willy Logan, a fourth-year doctoral candidate at Auburn studying under the direction of Alan Meyer, recently had the privilege to experience all three of these when he traveled to the American Institute for Indian Studies in Jaipur, India during the summers of 2012 and 2013.
Willy realized from an early date that if he wanted to understand the primary sources available on India’s post-colonial period (1947-1965) necessary to complete his dissertation, he would need to learn Hindi, the native tongue of that nation. This posed a slight complication. Willy remarked that “even though Hindi is one of the most widely-spoken languages in the world, it is not commonly taught in the United States.” This dilemma did not force Willy to choose another topic, but instead pushed him to pursue new avenues to achieve his goal of learning about this period, and drove him to apply to various programs to learn Hindi in India. Willy knew that the History Department would support him in his endeavor, and under the direction of several faculty members he applied for grants to defray the cost of his education. The process of applying for such things can be tedious and unrelentingly monotonous, but Willy recalled that Auburn’s professors “supported me each step of the way. They encouraged me to apply for summer language programs, wrote recommendation letters for me, and gave me feedback on my application essays. I could not have asked for more supportive professors. I cannot imagine how I would have succeeded without them behind me.”
Even though much of his time was spent in the classroom at the Institute, Willy also had the ability to do some traveling and sight-seeing while in India. He visited seventeenth century temples and castles, which allowed him to view the majestic intermingling of past and present nations of India. Willy said that his experiences not only enhanced his knowledge of the Hindi language of which he is now proficient at reading and speaking, but also contributed greatly to his understanding of present-day India and the people who live there; both of which are sure to prove invaluable resources as he continues work on his dissertation.
Last Updated: August 16, 2016