Visit our FB page for the photo Album: https://goo.gl/iHhD6v
From December 2 to 20, 2018, a group of 11 students and faculty from the University of Oregon, USA, spent 19 days in Puducherry, and hosted by the Sri Aurobindo Society (SAS).
The group was headed by Dr Surendra Subramani, who was also instrumental in organizing the programme and planning the itinerary in collaboration with the Sri Aurobindo Foundation for Integral Education and Research (SAFIER) team, led by Shivakumar, Director, SAFIER. Dr Surendra Subramani is also singularly responsible, since 2012, for establishing a collaborative relationship between the University of Oregon (UO) students, staff and community and SAS.
From the offset, the goal of the programme was multidimensional. The challenge was to expose the students within a short span of 18 days to Indian culture, history, philosophies, and social fabric and also introduce them to the current innovative projects of SAS that are working for the growth and progress of Indian society.
Sri Aurobindo Society has among its members many individuals, who have the necessary expertise and experience in many of the identified areas. They were called upon to provide the positive curriculum to educate the students on many of these topics. Furthermore, SAS also has associations with partner organizations that were made available for the students to have hands-on experience to observe or participate in their respective areas of study or interest.
During their stay, they interacted with the SAS Team and had sessions with Gayatri, Puja, Shruti, Sampad, Sushanto, Rathi, and Shivakumar on various topics.
The introduction and service work with the SARVAM project and the Satya Special School provided opportunities for the UO students and faculty to see the challenges these projects face and yet the progress made for the betterment of their respective constituents.
At the SARVAM project, the most important distinction observed by the UO students was the dedication and focus towards education the children in the village showed. In many respects, though the village did not have the privileged comforts found in the US, the level of respect, discipline, healthy curiosity, and passion for education was something the UO students have not seen in American schools. At the Satya Special School, it was noted by some of the students that the level of genuine human interaction practiced by the supervisors was almost non-existent in similar American establishments due to legal requirements. The American institutions, as one student noted, deals with their students in a very clinical manner—almost like clients—lacking the human touch, while at Satya, which lacked the sophistication of the physical infrastructure, brimmed with human touch and care. The students recommended to the Satya supervisors to continue what they were doing, while only selectively choosing what was being offered through the American system.
A look at the historical, cultural and artistic achievements of south India was made available through a visit to the ancient temples of Mahabalipuram. And then there was a much-enjoyed bicycle trip to the Lighthouse of Puducherry and a dip in the Bay of Bengal. There were also visits to the Matrikunj land (SAS farm) where conscious farming is being practised, and to SHARANAM, the green, environment friendly rural training centre, which made their trip more complete.
The overall programme far exceeded the expectations of the UO students. The visit was so successful that all the students have indicated that they would like to return to spend more time on many of the projects run by the Society.
We wish them the best in their lives and further education to the benefit of the humanity as a whole!
Here are the write-ups by the Participants of their experience.