We could have been at any college fair in the country. Tables were set up with representatives from various colleges and universities, with students and their families stopping at the tables with questions about entrance requirements, financial aid, and specific academic programs and interests.
But we weren’t just anywhere. We were in New Delhi, India, at a university fair at the Fulbright House, featuring alumni from American institutions, and thanks to Nita Choudhury, our recent graduate who lives in New Delhi, the MU delegation was able to participate in the event.
Why was our delegation attending an Indian university fair?
At another stop, we could have been in the home of any of our students in the U.S. Parents welcomed us warmly and offered refreshments. We talked about their son’s experience and they expressed their gratitude for all that Methodist University has done to contribute to his success.
But we weren’t in the United States. We were in a modest, two-room home in a rural village in District Pune, near the UWC Mahindra campus in central India, visiting with the parents and brother of another recent MU graduate.
Why were we in this rural village?
We could have been at an American golf club, visiting with members and talking with prospective students interested in our PGA Golf Management program. They were impressed with the opportunities afforded to the students, including internships, placement assistance, and an unparalleled professional network to serve them for a lifetime.
But we weren’t in an American club. We were at the Bangalore Golf Club and those in attendance were truly impressed with our program and the fact that such a niche program exists in the U.S. where a student can follow her or his passion for golf while earning a University degree. Clearly this is a new and exciting possibility for promising Indian students.
Why were we at the Bangalore Golf Club?
We could have been at any fine restaurant in the States, enjoying a wonderful meal served on the terrace in the pleasant evening air, talking about our families, reflecting on the day’s events, celebrating a special occasion, and contemplating what lies ahead – all in the company of newfound friends.
We could have been having dinner in Fayetteville in July, having dinner on the patio in one of our many great restaurants.
But we weren’t in Fayetteville. We were in India, enjoying our last night with members of the Gupta family before heading home to North Carolina and Methodist University.
Why were we eating at this Indian restaurant?
Our delegation, comprised of University officials and trustees, went on an 11-day journey to India to learn firsthand what opportunities exist for recruiting international students to attend Methodist as well as exchange and study abroad opportunities for Methodist University students and faculty.
We returned to the U.S. with much more than we expected. Yes, there is a great deal of interest by Indian students and their families in experiencing an American university education, and they are particularly interested in our “hand crafted” educational approach that is unique to American higher education and perfected at MU. And they are intrigued by our niche programs in professional management like golf and tennis, and in health sciences that are not readily available in India.
India is a vast country with many contrasts and a diverse population of more than one billion people known for their religious diversity and speaking many different dialects. It is also the world’s largest democracy, has one of the fastest growing economies, and is a close ally with the U.S. With its growth and strong relationship with our country, and due to the need for more higher education for its population, there are amazing opportunities for Methodist University to serve this need as well as gain international recruitment and study abroad initiatives that are consistent with our vision as an increasingly global university well positioned to meet the needs of our students in the 21st century.
What we also learned is that we have a great deal in common with the people of India. We share the same values, which include an opportunity to practice our faith and a commitment to peace and prosperity. We want the same things for our families and from our educational experiences. With so much in common, we have a wonderful opportunity to create relationships and ultimately partnerships that can bring our people and therefore our two countries closer together and preserve the quality of life in all its forms that we enjoy. Methodist University, as a part of its mission and vision, can facilitate the creation of these relationships that will ensure a promising future.
Why India? Why the U.S.? Because we must, we should, and we can. The Methodist University delegation learned a great deal from its journey to India. The journey for their students to our campus and community, and for our students to their communities, offers a wonderful pathway toward fulfilling our vision for globalization, emphasizing the power of peace and reconciliation that is critical to preserving a democratic society and the future of our two countries. In fact, a week from now, President Obama will be visiting New Delhi to serve as Chief Guest in the Republic Day Parade, symbolizing the strong relationship between our two countries and their citizens.
Methodist University gets it right, and I applaud the greater campus community and trustees for supporting this important venture. I can now say that I have the Best Job in the World!