An Interview with AMS student Mallika Humpert, of the University of Geneva, Switzerland

Mallika Humpert GR, American Studies Diploma program

Mallika Humpert GR, American Studies Diploma program

Crepes with Nutella. Abercrombie and Fitch clothing. Badminton.

These are a few of Mallika’s favorite things. A native of Geneva, Switzerland, she speaks four languages (German, English, Spanish, and French) and she is an accomplished athlete. But Mallika has more similarities with American students than differences.

She joins the Smith community this year as an American Studies Diploma candidate with a passion for sports and dance. The United States is not foreign to her, though, having traveled in the past to places like Boston, Miami, and New York City for annual vacations.

Still, Mallika needed time to adjust to life at Smith, she says. Compared to the University of Geneva, where she completed her undergraduate studies, Smith is more academically rigorous, while more flexible with course selections. For instance, in Europe, students can take more than 10 classes per semester because teachers rarely assign papers and quizzes.

Mallika feels she is learning more at Smith because the classes are challenging and her teachers are very approachable. For the fall semester, she is taking Hip Hop and Jazz dance, American Society and Culture, History of Ancient and Medieval Western Philosophy, Kung Fu, and special studies for her thesis, which focuses on why female athletes receive lower incomes and are less famous than male athletes.

Mallika is happy that, in contrast to her European education, at Smith she is not required to choose only courses related to a single discipline, and can study a plethora of subjects. Growing up in Geneva, her concentration was mainly on sports. As a young girl, her parents exposed her to a wide variety of physical activities, and she participated in badminton, tennis, gymnastics, dance, volleyball, and basketball.

While she enjoys solitary sports, like dance and gymnastics, Mallika prefers being on a team. She relishes the collaboration and communication as well as the pure spirit that comes with working as part of a team. She plans to continue her involvement in sports and dance, through her studies and in her free time. Sports and dance are where she feels most relaxed and at peace—whether swinging a badminton racquet or practicing a hip-hop routine.

Mallika’s primary sport, badminton, which she has played since she was 6 years old, offers both an individual and team aspect. She prefers playing doubles, especially mixed doubles, because of her skill and her interest in playing on a team. Mallika feels a sense of purpose through playing badminton.

If she remains in the United States after completing her American Studies certificate, she envisions continuing to seek opportunities to dance and play badminton, and may join an organization working to curtail obesity. If she returns to Europe, she will pursue a teaching career in the sports and philosophy fields.

With Mallika’s talent and dedication, anything is possible.