Meet Rajan Singh, First Student to Complete Portuguese Minor

rajan singh image
Raj Singh during his trip to Brazil.

The NC State Foreign Languages and Literatures Department is delighted to congratulate Rajan Singh (class of 2016) on being the first student to complete a minor in Portuguese.

Majoring in Biomedical Engineering, Singh “always intended to study abroad, and always intended to learn a second language.” The language of choice, for him, was Portuguese. Singh chose Portuguese over Spanish, “primarily because of the uniqueness.” There are few Americans with the capability to speak Portuguese, making Singh’s minor a great asset to his future.

Minoring in Portuguese also provided Singh with the opportunity to study abroad in Brazil for seven months from late December 2014 to August 2015. As a part of the spring semester exchange program through NC State, Singh studied and lived in Curitiba, the largest city in the South region of Brazil. There, he became confident in his ability to speak Portuguese with a near-fluent skill level. Singh describes just how impactful the immersion in the language was on his studies: “In seven months I went from hardly being able to say hello to speaking Portuguese without thinking.”

Exploring a country and culture different from your own cultivates a sense of global awareness, and Singh was exposed to the geographic divisions that exist within Brazil during his time there. His travels took him through 12 states and most regions of the country. He found that it is common for different regions to speak with divergent accents and slang terms. “They can vary so much that even Brazilians can have trouble communicating.” These nuances, as well as the implications of a severe wealth divide in some Brazilian cities, simply cannot be learned in a classroom.

Raj’s path to the minor included taking FLL’s Portuguese courses, his participation in a televised class offered through the Portuguese Studies Consortium of UNC Online’s Language Exchange and his enrollment in Brazilian language, history and culture courses while in Curitiba. Singh believes studying abroad is imperative for every language, and that all students studying a foreign language should participate in a semester exchange. He adds, “I find that the uncomfortable moments that come with a semester exchange are the moments that force students into personal growth.”

As he re-enters academic life back at NC State, Singh is excited about the opportunities ahead of him. “I feel refreshed, I feel sharp, and I am ready to give 100% towards academics and extracurricular activities.” Singh’s main focuses are the Global Village, Biomedical Engineering, and the Caldwell Fellows program.

More information on the Portuguese program can be found on the program’s webpage.

By Jasmyn Morere

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