Photo of Brendan Dabhi, current student in the program. (Photo by Chris Whitman)
We began at 9:00 in the morning and welcomed 26 friendly students from St. Xavier’s College. They came in and said, “Carole Ma’am” and “Andrea Ma’am,” their formal greeting for us. We all quickly told them to address us with just our first names, a cultural exchange within the first five minutes. Loved it.

The students are fantastic and are truly showing me why I entered this field in the first place. They are so eager to learn and have infested the entirety of their energy into this program. Brendan Dabhi, a current student in the program, was set to participate last year but after the cancellation on our end he was given his money and fees back. On the first day he told me, “They said to me, ‘Come and collect your money,’ I was so sad. But when I found out the program was coming back this year I immediately went and filled out my forms.” Brendan is just one example of how persistent and focused the students here are. They want to be journalists who tell the facts and stories no one else knows about. They know what they want to do and they go for it. Here, at St. Xaveir’s curriculum is set for them to stay focused on their goals and on track for success. When you watch them work it is as if they are wearing blinders for distractions, they never look up except for help, they don’t use cellphones during class, all attention is on the professor and they take notes vigorously.

The Rev. Vincent Saldanha, professor in English and Dean of Students, pointed out the difference in Indian and American education. In America we have our common core classes that everyone has to take so we receive a well-rounded perspective, where as in India it is not required for you to take two philosophy or theology classes, for example.  We discussed that there are pros and cons to each form of education. Here, in India, you finish your undergrad within three years and immediately move onto your masters due to the lack of general education requirements. In the U.S. you finish your undergrad in four years but are not told to move onto your masters right away for all occupations, we are encouraged to have the real-world experience first.

Looking at the systems I see the positives and negatives, but more importantly after working with the students, who I am beginning to see more as friends, I see that each form fits the cultural. In the evolving country of India the students are ready and excited to enter their field and receive the highest qualifications for their job because they want to make an impact, they want to be a part of the faced paced country. In America the slower paced system lends itself to the current job market. Employers are looking for well rounded, highly educated and evolved people and that takes time to foster and create within and make yourself marketable. Neither is better than the other, it is simply the way it is and I accept that. 

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    Andrea is a recent graduate from the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University with a double major in journalism and Spanish.

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    December 2011