Saturday, March 19, 2011

A FLAME in the Desert

On Thursday we traveled to the Foundation for Liberal and Management Education (FLAME) . Just as the College of St. Francis differed from the University of Hyderabad, FLAME differed from them both.

Our trip through Pune was the most intense of them all so far: a constant game of chicken waged with oncoming cars. We were in a scene from 'Vanishing Point.' With a frequently blowing horn and an alarmingly close call with a pedestrian, it was a blessing to exit the city and begin winding through the nearby hills.

Mr. Parag Shah, with Sister Joan Lescinski
Many switchbacks later I looked to the left to spy the only golf course I have seen in our two weeks in India. And several turns later we drove onto the campus of FLAME.

The school, only a few years old, is the fruit of a dream of the founder and chairman, Mr. Parag Shah who wished to establish an institution based on a foundation in the liberal arts, much like many small and mid-sized colleges and universities in the United States, including SAU.

We were welcomed and hosted very graciously. We were particularly struck by their Discover India Project which includes months of preparation prior to an 8-day field trip to a distant community in India. Student teams put to use their training in anthropological research methods and live on a modest budget for several days. We saw some impressive team reports that captured their new insights, fruits of the classroom and in-field experiences.

As we toured the campus by golf cart it was clear that the buildings and landscaping have been beautifully done by a famous Indian architect.
The dry heat, blue sky and surrounding earth tones of the countryside brought back found memories of the Southwest of the U.S.

Throughout the day-long visit, we came to appreciate the mission and vision of the school which led us to initial explorations of possible collaborations for faculty and student exchanges. 

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