Faculty Travels East to Attend Midsummer Seminar in India

While folks home were trying to get the best of the capricious Brookings Sun, a few South Dakota State University faculty members got to partake of a hot Indian summer, the past June.

A team of professors, headed by the director of international programs, Dr. Karl J. Schmidt, traveled to India to attend a summer seminar in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad.

They included Dr. David Hilderbrand, dean of graduate school, Dr. Ali Selim, professor of civil and environmental engineering, Dr. Alfred Andrawis, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and Dr. Diane Rickerl, professor of plant science.

“This was a faculty seminar, aimed at giving participants a serious academic grounding in India’s past, present, as well as its possibilities for future. Some of the topics the seminar focused on were Indian history, culture, and language,” said Schmidt.

As part of South Dakota State University’s ongoing drive to promote greater diversity on campus, in March 2004, the university had worked out an exchange program with the University of Hyderabad.

Commenting on why he chose to organize a seminar on India, Schmidt said, “This was something I’d worked on in my previous institution. I’d run a very successful seminar at the University of Hyderabad in the summer of 2000.”

“Faculty came from a variety of disciplines and traveled to India to get acquainted with things involving Indian history and culture. When they came back, they knew more about Indian students and were able to incorporate something of what they’d learned into their teaching. I thought it would be a good thing for this university too.”

The two-week-long seminar was held on the campus of the University of Hyderabad, housed amid tree-lined pathways and small rolling hills.

Speaking about his experience in India, Salem said, “It was unique and different. I got to see a different part of the world. We visited one of the elite facilities in India. I was amazed to see the willingness of the Indian people to work so hard. I found the faculty to be extremely well-informed.”

Voicing a similar view, Andrawis said, “It was a great educational experience. I was impressed by India’s diversity of religion and caste. Yet, the minorities know how to live peacefully with each other and respect each other.”

Along with the scholastic feast, the faculty also sampled the sights, sounds, and flavors of India. After a brief stay in Hyderabad, Schmidt and his five-member delegation headed to New Delhi, India’s capital city; home to more than 12 million people.

“Delhi is such a beautiful city. I really liked downtown Delhi, especially, the parliament building. It was so high-class,” said Andrawis.

From New Delhi, they took a four-hour drive to the city of Agra, home of one the world’s seven wonders, the Taj Mahal. Speaking of the monument, Andrawis said, “It was so wonderful. I’ve never seen anything like it and perhaps, never will.”


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