This trip was my seventh and shortest trip to India. I have had the good fortune to have been awarded three previous Fulbright Fellowships to India, in 1987, 1992, and 2005, and I traveled on vacation with my family to India on three other trips. After arriving in Chennai late Friday night (Feb 1), I spent the next day sightseeing and visiting Marina Beach, which I had visited so many times before while lecturing at the University of Madras. For me, it is always an intensely personal experience to visit India, and this short trip of only one week with a myriad of meetings was still very meaningful to me.
On our last official day, Friday (Feb. 8), I was selected to speak at the One Globe Conference in New Delhi, whose theme was creating global knowledge communities, discussing education funding challenges, and the role of education in economic development. As I feverishly prepared my short talk only an hour or so before being led on stage for a discussion, the gist of my talk came to me. From Sunday (Feb. 3) through Thursday (Feb. 7), we must have met with at least 30 or more heads of Indian academic institutions. These Indian professors and administrators were, without exception, warm, gracious, and eager to hear what our respective American universities had to offer, and just as eager and proud to tell us of their institutions and their accomplishments. Yet, it was just one Indian professor whose words reverberated so profoundly in my head as I prepared my four minute long speech. He said that he wished that Indian academic institutions, their professors, and their students could be ‘on par’ with America. So on stage, when the moderator called upon me for my thoughts, I realized something very important. India cares deeply about its children’s education. India also heavily invests in its higher education programs. And so I said: “India, you are not ‘on par’ with academia in America! If we follow this golf metaphor, you are below par, and in golf that is very good!” After all, I had just watched a long series of presidential debates in America, and there were an unfortunate plethora of candidates who wished to cut funding, grants, and loans to university students - IN ORDER TO SAVE MONEY! Thus, I have profound admiration and gratitude to India for its recognition of the great value of educating its children of all ages. As I said at the end of my talk, we (American academic institutions) will do all we can to expand USA-India educational opportunities for your students and for ours. And, India, please export to America the great value you place upon educating your children. May we Americans learn by the great power of your example.
Professor Frederick L. Coolidge, PhD, University of Colorado Presidential Teaching Scholar, Psychology Department, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.
The Journey to Being a GE Foundation Scholar
The journey to becoming a GE Foundation Scholar-Leader began way before the application process, in anticipation of the prestigious scholarship and the exciting workshop that was a part of the program. When the application form finally arrived, I realized immediately that this was no ordinary scholarship; it was a program that was tailored to select the best candidate and bring out the best out of him or her during the course of the program. While filling out the form, I had the opportunity to make an introspection of my strengths and weaknesses and it made me realize about my obligation to contribute to the community by brainstorming on community development projects.
Working as a team was probably the most important lesson that was taught during the course of the workshop; being split into teams even before the workshop began hinted that early on. Getting to meet the brilliant scholars from across the country and to interact with them, after weeks of discussions online, was well worth the wait. The enthusiasm shown by Dr. Lavakare Sir and Mr. Ram throughout the workshop was remarkable and every moment spent with them taught us something new.
The visit to John F Welch Technology Centre (JFWTC), Bangalore was undoubtedly the most exciting part of the workshop. A peek at the corporate culture of a huge company like GE and time spent with GE experts truly transformed my thought process. To realize that the process of building a product or a service begins by first identifying a problem to solve and then considering the feasibility and marketability of a product, were lessons I would never have learnt at college.
Implementing such priceless tips and building a team that works together with each person contributing to the maximum, I was able to build my company which has now turned into a multi-crore venture. The workshop experience will forever be cherished as being instrumental in encouraging me to pursue my passion in a structured manner and inspiring the leader in me.
I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude, on behalf of all the scholars, to the GE Foundation, IIE and especially Dr. Lavakare for organizing such inspiring workshops every year and I am certainly looking forward to contributing in every way possible to help grow the program and inspire the leader in many more scholars in the years to come.
Mr. Mohammad Shabaz Moosa (GE Foundation Scholar 2012), 4th year B. E. Computer Science Engineering, Manipal Institute of Technology, Manipal