The nine students attend St. Xavier’s in Calcutta, the same university where the newly formed, semester-long India study abroad program is located. This group of nine was the first group to visit the CSB/SJU campus from St. Xavier and the students were remarkably all women.
The group was made up of three business administrative majors, three sociology majors and three political science majors. The women were all chosen to participate in this program because of their high marks and incredible test scores.
Last Thursday marked a Farewell Dinner hosted by CSB/SJU’s Office for Education Abroad and Center for Global Education. It was an intimate dinner that allowed for many thanks and much reflection.
“We were able to meet so many people from so many different parts of the world,” Snehanjali Paul, a sociology major from Xavier, said. “This is a really, truly beautiful place.”
The women participated in a range of activities during their time here in Minnesota. They visited the Mall of America, attended the Welcome Back Dance sponsored by the Office for International Students and spent a few days in home stays during the CSB/SJU fall break.
The success of this first time program was not only recognized by the nine students, but also the principal of St. Xavier, Father Felix Raj. Raj arrived on campus early last week to observe the progress of the program and the success of partnership with CSB/SJU.
Raj was extremely impressed by the people, facilities and integrity of CSB/SJU. He has yet to sign with any other institution to initiate a cultural exchange.
“It brings me much pleasure to announce that a contract has been reached and we will be continuing our educational and cultural exchange with CSB/SJU,” Raj said. “I’m in fact looking forward to a very bright future.”
The first semester-long participants from St. Xavier’s could be joining us as early as fall 2013.
Joseph Rogers, Director for the Center for Global Education, along with student worker social liaison planned and organized the program for the Indian students.
“As the world’s largest democracy, India is incredibly important. Our partnership with St. Xavier’s will help us create a host of new learning experiences for both our students abroad and on campus,” Rogers said. “We are very fortunate to be in partnership with this institution.”
The nine women thoroughly enjoyed their time here and learned much about the CSB/SJU culture.
“We should appreciate the Johnnies for always opening up the doors for us,” Paul said. “And the Bennies are so sweet.”
Paul, along with her classmates, certainly exemplifies the notion of %u2018once a Bennie, always a Bennie’ with her observation of the Johnnie code and the common characteristics of Bennie students.
“This was my first time to America and I am definitely coming back now after my month in St. Joseph, Minn.,” Zeba Akhtar, St. Xavier student, said. “The people here are full of warmth.”
This idea, though expressed by Akhtar, was felt by each and every student.
“In Calcutta we are accustomed to metropolitan cities and many people,” Asmita Chandra, a political science major, said. “I enjoyed every minute of the time we were able to spend in nature; you don’t find these things in India.”
Both the students and their principal extended the idea of partnership to encouraging the CSB/SJU community to think of it more as a family.
“Let’s consider this a family. One, here in St. Joseph, Minn., USA and one in Calcutta, India,” Raj said.
Sreejita Dey, a sociology major, also believes her new found friendships to be the beginning a life-long, world-wide family.
“Even if you showed up at our doorsteps, my family would not be surprised,” Dey said. “They would welcome you all as if they have known you forever, like you were family.”
Paul, who gave a speech on behalf of all of her friends at the Farewell Dinner, told the story of the arrival on campus at the beginning of October. This anecdote can represent the interactions that the women have had with many students, faculty and staff while on campus.
“We got off of the bus, and walked on to Margretta Hall where we would be staying for the month and was greeted by Sister Lois. When Sister Lois gave me that big, welcoming hug, I thought, %u2018I must be some place close to home.'”