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In GU’s Portuguese class Engineer accountant embassy staff

In GU’s Portuguese class Engineer accountant embassy staff

12 Aug 2017 No comment 20 hits

Panaji: When life got too competitive and stressful for Sumit Sharma, an engineer working for a multinational company in Delhi, he decided to fall back on a European language that had brought him some joy in college.

He quit his job at Sony, decided to close the chapter on engineering and enrolled for the MA course in Portuguese at Goa University this academic year.

"My parents have been supportive and told me to take up a career that would make me happy," says Sharma who wants to one day teach Portuguese. "I don't want to get back into engineering. Teaching is such a respected profession and people have great respect for their teachers," he adds.

The scramble for MA courses in French, German and Spanish in Delhi put him off. "I was looking to study a foreign language that would only bring me satisfaction," he says.

This year the MA programme in Portuguese literature and culture offered by the department of Portuguese and Lusophone Studies at Goa University—the only university in the country offering it—has seen a good response from North India. In fact students from Delhi have outnumbered the three local students.

But unlike their predecessors, they are not looking at using their degree to secure a higher pay package in an MNC. Most are keen on academics, travelling and learning the language to broaden their perspective.

After completing short term courses in Portuguese, Aditi Nigum worked for two years in an MNC and until recently as a technical assistant in the visa section of the Portuguese embassy in New Delhi where she was pleasantly surprised to find students from even Nepal and Karnataka applying for scholarships for higher studies in universities in the European country.

Despite using Portuguese in her work she found that she wasn't learning anything new. "I wanted to study the language in depth. It is more important to me than monetary benefits. Learning a new language is an asset and changes character and perception," she says, adding that the corporate world is for a certain set of people and that she finds academicians more cheerful.

While men take up higher studies it is often the women who are expected to get married after graduation, she finds. "I want to explore and understand more. When I look back I don't want any regrets in life," says Nigum whose father has a masters in Spanish and her mother a Bachelors in Japanese.

What makes the course in Goa all the more interesting is its Portuguese colonial past that is evident in its architecture, food, culture and cuisine. When she recently entered a restaurant in Margao, she was delighted to hear two senior citizens greet each other in Portuguese.

"The Portuguese presence is still visible here in a nonliving form," observes Bhupender Verma aka Beekay, another student from Delhi who was teaching elementary Portuguese before he decided to study the language seriously. The son of a navy man and a CA drop out, he has also studied Japanese, Spanish, the Gurmukhi script and Sanskrit. His passion is teaching and he hopes to one day teach Portuguese in a University "anywhere in the world". The corporate world is again not his cup of tea. "At MNCs it's mostly language for purpose. Where business is concerned there's always a barrier. I want to learn colloquial phrases so that I can actually connect with people," he says.

Delfim Correia, in charge of the department of Portuguese and Lusophone Studies at Goa University says the department is the only one in India offering an MA in Portuguese. The global economy continues to seek specialists in the language he says, adding that those in the state underestimate its value.

"Almost 2000 Portuguese words are used in Konkani and hundreds of words from Indian languages were integrated in Portuguese. It's sad that we're ignoring the texts and documents existing in Goan archives and libraries, a real world heritage, and the importance of the language contact of Portuguese with Indian languages. China is doing much more," he says.

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Source: In GU’s Portuguese class Engineer accountant embassy staff

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