Humans of Hofstra: Gopal Khandelwal
How many people do you know who can speak six languages? Sophomore political science and criminology major Gopal Khandelwal can.
Khandelwal is an international student from Hong Kong. “I never really stayed anywhere for over a year before Hong Kong,” he said. Khandelwal was born in the United States, but didn’t live here. He spent some time living in India and Thailand before settling down in Hong Kong in sixth grade.
Throughout his time living in different countries, Khandelwal has had the opportunity to explore different cultures and learn six different languages.
“My first language was Hindi, the second language I learned was Marwadi, which is a local Indian language. After that, I learned English and French simultaneously. The last two languages I learned are both forms of Chinese; they’re Mandarin and Cantonese,” Khandelwal said.
Learning six languages and being able to carry out conversations in each is definitely an impressive feat. When I asked Khandelwal how he was able to learn so many languages and if he has any advice for those who want to learn new languages, he said, “The first thing I would do is actually immerse myself in the culture, understand about the food, understand pronunciation of the language, actually appreciate it ... the only way you can actually get something out of learning a language is appreciating the culture, is appreciating the diversity of the language and appreciating its importance in the world today.”
Just as Khandelwal wasted no time immersing himself in various languages and cultures, he also wasted no time in getting involved on campus. Since his first semester at Hofstra, Khandelwal has been an active member of Model UN, the South Asian Students Association (SASA) and Badminton Club. This semester, he also became a member of Hofstra International (HINT). Due to his dedication to Model UN and SASA over the past year, he now holds e-board positions for both – event manager of Model UN and treasurer of SASA.
However, his involvement with leadership roles doesn’t stop there. Khandelwal also announced that he is now on the e-board for one of Hofstra’s newest clubs, the Vander Poel Cooking Club. “It’s not the culinary club because that’s established and has been established for a really long time,” he said. “Dean [Warren] Frisina of the Honors College thought it would be really nice to have a cooking society in the Vander Poel Hall within Honors College because a lot of honors students like to cook, but they simply can’t attend culinary club meetings.”
Lastly, Khandelwal served as a Welcome Week Leader for this past Welcome Week 2018. When asked what it was like to experience Welcome Week from the other end, just one year after he was a new student, he said, “I loved it, to be honest. Welcome Week was really fun. It was extremely stressful, but it was really fun as well. As a Welcome Week Leader, I got to meet so many freshmen that I don’t think I would’ve met if I was not a Welcome Week Leader.”
Speaking of meeting new people, one of the main reasons why Khandelwal feels it is so important for people to get involved on campus is the fact that they can meet countless people and build meaningful relationships with them.
“I like having people I can vent to about my emotions, about my classes, about my professors and it’s just great because it’s a mutual relationship built on trust and understanding. But if you are the type of person who’s extremely pragmatic and practical, there’s still reasons on why to get involved on campus because the people you’re going to meet on campus, they are your future contacts into the world,” Khandelwal said.
Khandelwal has met some of his best friends and formed extremely close bonds with several people through the extracurriculars he has been involved with. “One of the leaders of SASA is someone who I admire a lot. Her name is Manmeet. She’s the secretary for SGA and she’s just an amazing person in general. I know she’s going to go really far and knowing people like that is not only going to help me because she’s advised me on so much to do relating to classes, but she’s also just been a great friend and a great support to me.”
Khandelwal is without a doubt a very unique and well-rounded individual. His perspective of the world, overall outlook on life and positive energy is admirable, enlightening and contagious. Khandelwal is extremely friendly, open-minded and genuine. It is clear that he will continue to go places and accomplish great things while making a positive impact on those around him.