My work in India began in the spring of 1996 at the University of Iowa when I met Philip Lutgendorf, now the chair of AIIS language studies programs. Philip convinced me that if I wanted to do research in India, the most important thing I could do would be to learn Hindi, quickly. I immediately embarked on intensive Summer Beginning Hindi with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, South Asian Summer Language Institute. The following summer, in 1997, I studied Hindi with the AIIS intensive advanced summer language program in Mussoori and Benaras, India. The 10 weeks of that program transformed my Hindi into a functional tool for my future fieldwork. My introduction to the AIIS language teachers and the staff in New Delhi was the start of professional relationships that have remained a source of constant support over the past decade.
All language fellows are told about AIIS competitive Junior Fellowships for students pursuing PhD research in India. I successfully applied for a fellowship that supported my fieldwork in 2000 in Rajasthan and led to my PhD in 2002. Through that year in India, the New Delhi office and former Director General Pradeep Mehendiratta, in particular, provided invaluable professional assistance. I have been to India several times during the intervening years and have felt welcome to use the facilities of AIIS whether or not I was a Fellow. I have often referred colleagues to AIIS when they are working in India.
It was my good fortune to attend the University of Iowa, an AIIS-member institution, My first teaching position was at the University of Illinois, another AIIS institution. In my current position I was able to facilitate the affiliation of Texas A&M University with AIIS. The reasons for doing so are obvious: language programs, fellowship programs and scholarly support in India and the United States. In the fall of 2006, I was awarded an AIIS short-term Senior Fellowship to continue research in Rajasthan on community participation in water resource management. I look forward to many years of future involvement with AIIS, no matter what source of support I have.
Kathleen O’Reilly is an Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University.