Tuesday, March 15, 2011

An Historic Visit to St. Francis College for Women: the Signing of our First MOU in India

A Post From Sister Joan
Following our visit to the American Consulate, we set off for what was to be an historic highlight of our visit so far.  Arun, Dave and I wove our way through the dense Hyderabadi traffic to St. Francis College for Women where we were warmly greeted by the Principal (President/CEO), Sister Alphonsa Vattoly, the Sister of Charity who visited our campus in May 2010 as part of the inaugural American Business Experience (ABE) Program.  The next few hours introduced us to the various constituencies of the College:  faculty, staff, Board of Management (Trustees), and, most importantly, students and their parents.

     Our first meeting, with the trustees, immediately set the positive and inspiring tone for the day with a meaningful prayer led by the Chair of the Board and Provincial Superior, Sister Mary Kuriakose, (Sister of Charity) in which she blessed our time together and prayed that we all might deepen our relationship for the good of all concerned, especially our students.  Discussion then followed with the trustees as we explored both the history of how we came to this moment and ideas for future collaborations. 

Sister Alphonsa then invited about a dozen senior faculty to join us for the historic signing of the MOU which formalized our exchange agreement.  I  felt a surge of both pride and accomplishment that the work of so many, especially Professor Arun Pillutla and Dr. Ryan Dye (Director of our Center for International Education), over the past three years had led to this moment. 

After the formal signing ceremony a special moment followed in which I had the privilege to present the Seal of the University medallion to the Chair of the Board.  It was at that time, as I mentioned our namesake, St. Ambrose, that we discovered that the Motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity (an Italian congregation) was located in Milan today:  a providential sign!

       In the afternoon we spent several pleasant hours with presentations by both St. Ambrose and St. Francis.  I gave a brief introduction to SAU; Dean Dave O'Connell followed with an excellent PowerPoint highlighting the University Mission and, in particular, and mission and programs in the College of Business.  Arun followed with a presentation of ABE 2010 highlights.  We were privileged to have in the audience all four of the students who had attended the inaugural ABE Program at SAU in May/June 2010.  They had proven to be our best ambassadors to others upon their return; this has led to the delightful outcome that we have more than doubled the number of students whom we are expecting for the Summer 2011 ABE Program.
 For their part, St. Francis charmed us with a beautiful musical multi-part rendition of the Prayer of St. Francis. 

Later in the program two students treated us to a graceful Indian dance whose theme was "Women's Empowerment."  Arun explained that the dance manifested the many aspects of women's experience today; righteous anger, determination, love and the strength to change the world through their work in both raising the next generation and affecting the world outside the home.   The ending of the dance embodied what it means today to be a 'modern woman.'  I felt tears come to my eyes as I watched these two young women put into dance the aspirations of women throughout the world.

     At the end of the presentation we had the joy of embracing our four 'alumnae' and of meeting many of the 10 or so young women and their parents who are applying for a place in the ABE 2011 Program. 

The students' excited was palpable, and the parents, like parents everywhere had their fears allayed as we discussed what it would mean for their daughters to be among us at SAU this summer.

     Finally, we said our 'goodbyes' to all at St. Francis, and we left them with a sense of joy that this day would be remembered as an historic day in the life of both our institutions.


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