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Ms. Bharati Mukherjee sponsors the

Tagore Scholarship For Language Students

My first acquaintance with the University of Toronto came about through auditing a French course whose first meeting fatefully took place the day after 9/11. I had just recently earned my Diplôme Supérieur in French from the Alliance Française in Paris, France, which had been challenging enough for me - someone first trained as a Barrister in England, and now in retirement, seeking to further expand my horizons. After I passed my French Examinations, I wanted to keep up my skills by continuing to attend French classes somewhere. The University of Toronto’s French, Italian and German Departments offered me a wide range of courses that I attended. My French and Italian classes inspired me to publish collections of essays in French and Italian. Both are currently used in Language Schools in India as reference books, offering reflections on nature, love, French and Italian poetry, drama and history, and my experiences as a native of India living here in the West. Given these joyful experiences, I asked myself how I might ever repay the University of Toronto for the generosity extended to me years earlier and more recently. I resolved this in 2012 by establishing a Scholarship for Language Study - the Tagore Scholarship, named after India’s Nobel Laureate in Literature, Rabindranath Tagore, who earned this distinction in 1913. My one stipulation was for the scholarship to rotate among all seven languages currently available for undergraduate study, so that all recipients might, at very least, have a reason to look up who R. N. Tagore was! In life, happiness and sadness are apportioned us in equal measure by the Almighty. An unbearable tragedy happened in my life last April when I lost my second son Rajeeb. He passed away within minutes after a heart attack. He was my rock, and a part of me died when he passed away so suddenly and so unexpectedly.

All I have left are my tears and the memories of our beautiful times together. As it happens, our last trip together in 2013 was to Munich’s Oktoberfest and to visit the iconic Neuschwanstein Castle, whose image precedes every Walt Disney movie. My son was a bright student who earned his undergraduate degree in Economics from the London School of Economics in the UK. Back in Toronto, he also successfully ran the Half Marathon in 2003, and the Full Marathon in 2006. I decided that a scholarship in his name for a student in the Economics and Commerce Faculties at the University of Toronto would be a wonderful way to keep Rajeeb’s memory alive. Beginning next year, a meritorious student in need will receive this scholarship, which has been set up in perpetuity. I look forward in this way to regularly meeting young students and sharing their dreams while they spend a few years at this prestigious university. I myself am currently a part-time student of inter alia German Language and Culture at the University of Toronto. Last year I studied intermediate German in GER200 and found Professor M. Hager’s classes amazing! I also enjoyed Professor Angelica Fenner’s classes on German films immensely; knowledge gained there aided me with my oral presentation for a fourth year history class (HIS437) that I audited this Spring with Professor Jim Retallack, reflecting how subjects like History, Languages and Literature are interconnected. My experience in my German classes also inspired me to give back: I am in the process of creating a new scholarship for the best fourth-year German student, commencing in 2016. All the classes keep me focused, and both my professors and my fellow students help me to cope with my ongoing grief at losing my dearest son Rajeeb who was, indeed, an angel from God.

2015 annual newsletter of the department of germanic languages and literatures at the university of  
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