SESA arranged for GSG College Trustee Dr. Yadaorao Raut and Professor of Zoology Dr. Dhanraj Tayade to tour the United States from October 18 through November 6, with stops in Athens, Ohio; Tacoma, Washington; Boulder Colorado; and Boston, Massachusetts. They met with existing and potential collaborators; witnessed modern advancements in education, technology and medicine; explored pathways to help Indian farmers cope with worsening drought; and enjoyed the hospitality of friends and family.
The trip became possible when Dr. Lorna Jean Edmonds, Vice Provost for Global Affairs and International Studies at Ohio University, invited faculty from Gopikabai Sitaram Gawande Mahavidhyalaya (GSG College) to participate in a modern learning paradigm known as Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL), whereby a GSG College professor would partner with an Ohio University professor to develop an online course that enables students from different countries to learn together. “We see this as a unique and innovative approach to leverage, build, and institutionalize our relationships with [GSG College] and other university collaborators in Asia, Africa and around the globe,” Dr. Edmonds said.
Dr. Edmonds also invited Dr. Raut to visit Ohio University to strengthen Ohio University’s partnership with GSG College. The partnership emerged from SESA’s establishment of the Ram and Sushila Gawande India Endowment at Ohio University in 2012, which provides funding for an Ohio University faculty or student, on average one per year, to travel to GSG College to study, teach, conduct research, or provide services. After the Endowment was created, SESA facilitated a formal partnership between Ohio University and GSG College that was publicly announced in 2013. SESA has continued to liaison with the two institutions to stimulate and support mutually beneficial projects both within and beyond the Endowment. Dr. Raut and Dr. Tayade’s USA tour was organized and funded by SESA and Ohio University.
The visit was of particular significance for Dr. Raut, whose 30-year career guiding GSG College’s development has culminated in strong bonds between GSG College and institutions in the United States and deep personal bonds between Dr. Raut and many Americans. Dr. Raut has worked closely with SESA, Ohio University, and various Rotary organizations to implement countless improvement projects. He and his family personally have hosted over 50 visitors from the United States. After three decades of collaboration with individuals and organizations in the United States, this was his first visit to the United States and his first trip outside India.
For Dr. Tayade, the trip was a dream-not-even-imagined. Dr. Tayade recalled his life as a farm laborer prior to becoming a lecturer at GSG College. “Only 2 hectors of barren land we had. Bread two times a day was out of bound for us. My father flatly told me that he was unable to educate me. I, during the vacation, used to do hard work in farms of other people and somehow used to earn for my education. Many times, I had to sleep without food during my education. It was very momentous and memorable day for me when I was working in farms with soiled clothes, sweaty body and hungry stomach, and the postman came to me having my appointment order of lectureship in his hand. I was so excited and pleased that tear welled in my eyes, as I was the first member in my family and village who got recruited in such type of job.” Dr. Tayade has since taught for 31 years at GSG College. He has published over 80 research papers and is now Head of the Department of Zoology. This was his first visit to the United States and his first flight on an airplane.