Institutes of higher learning in the United States of America (U.S.) may lure thousands of Indian students to its campuses every year. But, a few students from the U.S. are attracted to educational institutions in India.
However, Vivekananda Institute of Indian Studies (VIIS), which has been hosting students from U.S. Universities for its short-duration programmes, has seen the numbers reach a record high of 216 students during the year 2014-15 from just 107 when the initiative began in 2008-09.
Studying a variety of issues ranging from Indian culture, civilization and history to India’s labour laws and public health issues, the international students are not only exposed to academics, but also Indian culture and lifestyle during their short duration stay extending up to eight weeks.
Andy, a student of Cornell University, U.S., who is currently studying Indian labour laws, said his visit to a coffee plantation in Kodagu, where he interacted with the labourers, was a learning experience.
“I find labour laws more employee-friendly in India than in the United States of America.”, he added.
Sejal and Rana, also students of Cornell University, who will be studying public health during their stay here, will also take up projects of preparing health statistics of students of N. Ranga Rao Memorial School for Blind and fund raising for spastics.
Students, who had attended preparatory sessions before coming to India earlier this week, have begun relishing Indian dishes. “We like the variety of spread offered to us”, said Dawn, another student.
Importantly, students don’t mind eating with their bare hands, pointed out Donna M. Ramil, Associate Director of International Programs in Industrial and Labour Relations (ILR), Cornell University.
VIIS has tied up with 22 foreign universities, mostly in the U.S., to offer its students customised courses on a variety of topics including Indian economy, micro-finance, health aspects etc, said VIIS Director Sindhu Suresh.
“The West and East should share its expertise”, she said. If the West is known for its management culture, the East can offer its spirituality and values system, she added.