Dr. Sangeeta Sharma, assistant professor and head of the Department of English at Birla College of Arts, Science & Commerce, an affiliate of the University of Mumbai, is no stranger to Clayton State University.
For that matter, faculty members at both institutions have enjoyed a relationship that dates back more than 10 years. It’s a relationship that has been marked by numerous faculty exchanges, including one in March 2012 when Sharma first visited Clayton State’s Department of English. On a return trip to Clayton State in April 2013, Sharma took time out from a busy schedule that included lecturing to Clayton State classes, to talk about both where she hopes the relationship between Clayton State and Birla College might go in the future, and the learning process.
During a luncheon with Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Kevin Demmitt, Sharma expressed the desire to expand the Birla/Clayton State relationship beyond faculty exchanges, to include student exchanges as well. Demmitt, who at the time of the meeting was serving as the Associate Vice President for Extended Programs, is pleased with Birla College’s desire to continue to grow and expand the relationship.
“We have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship with Birla College over the years,” he says. “The faculty who have visited India have been overwhelmed by their hospitality and the eagerness of their students to learn. And it is very beneficial for our students when they have the opportunity to learn from their faculty during their visits to Clayton State.
“One of our next goals is to for our students to experience this cultural exchange through study abroad and other programs.”
One group of Clayton State students who had the opportunity to diversify their education this semester was Dr. Mary Lamb’s Careers in Writing class. The connection was a natural, since Sharma, in addition to being an English professor, is also a published author, essayist, poet, critic and journalist in India. In addition to having her poetry and research articles appear in wide variety of international publications, she had published “In the Shadows: Women in Arthur Miller’s Plays” in 2012. She is also a widely-published critic and a regular freelance writer for Times of India
and Mumbai Mirror.
“There was a lot of curiosity among the students. They wanted to know more and more about India,” she says of her lecture to Lamb’s class. “They asked many questions; a good thing.
“Interaction between the teacher and the taught is very important. It should be encouraged all the more.”
Sharma is a great proponent of interaction across cultures, hence her support of expanding the relationship between Birla College and Clayton State.
“In this age of globalization, it is easier for student to enrich their experiences,” she says. “These programs facilitate cultural interaction, for the benefit of the teachers and the students. Faculty exchange programs help bridge the gap between cultures. We should now move towards student exchanges.
“The younger generation is responsible for the growth of our countries. Let’s give them a chance to see what lies on the other side of the globe, to broaden their horizons, and raise their aspirations. It’s very much needed.”