Strengthening Friendships and Partnerships in Athens, Ohio (USA Tour Part 2)
Drs. Raut and Tayade began their USA tour in Athens, Ohio. Sushi, Meeta, and Hattie Gawande hosted a welcome reception that was attended by dozens of Ohio University faculty, Rotarians, and Athens community members, many who have visited or supported GSG College. The warm welcome continued as several Athens residents hosted them in their homes, gave them local tours, and treated them to their first Mexican, Thai, Middle Eastern and traditional American cuisines.
Dr. Tayade attended COIL events at Ohio University where he learned new educational methods that emphasize creative thinking and team work. He explored cutting-edge technology tools and engaged with faculty from 11 countries across Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America. The group of 40 faculty and staff, including Tayade, then boarded a flight to Tacoma, Washington, where they joined faculty from dozens of other universities for a two-day COIL conference in Tacoma, Washington.
Meanwhile, Dr. Raut toured the Ohio University campus, met with faculty and staff, and explored potential collaborative projects through arrangements made by SESA and Ohio University’s Office of Global Affairs and International Studies. Discussions covered a range of topics:
· Dr. Chaden Djalali, Executive Vice President and Provost, Dr. Edmonds, Vice Provost for Global Affairs and International Studies, Dr. Brian Collins, Associate Professor & Drs. Ram and Sushila Gawande Chair in Indian Religion and Philosophy, Sushi Gawande and Meeta Gawande reviewed Ohio University’s partnership with GSG College and re-affirmed the institutions’ mutual commitment to working together for years to come.
· Dr. Briju Thankachan, Director of Curriculum and Assessment Design and Improvement in the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine and Technology Advisor at GSG College, and his wife Dr. Betsy Justus, a Master Gardner with a Doctorate in Plant Biology, invited GSG College to develop a five-year plan for their continued involvement with GSG College.
· Dr. Yegan Pillay, Associate Professor of Counseling and Higher Education, discussed methods for enhancing psychological support and counseling for students.
· Dr. Collins, Dr. Julie White, Associate Professor of Political Science and a core faculty in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Dr. Cat Cutcher, Assistant Director for Undergraduate Programs in the Center for International Studies, discussed the ongoing study abroad program at GSG College.
· Dr. Greg Kessler, Professor of Instructional Technology, showcased interactive educational methods using technology and developed plans to work with GSG College’s English language department.
· Dr. Daniel Che, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering, considered the decreasing water supply in eastern Maharashtra, where GSG College is located, and shared his experience with water management in drought-afflicted environments.
· Dr. Arthur Trese, Associate Professor of Plant Biology, and Dr. Justus guided a tour of Ohio University’s Student Farm and shared methods for reducing the negative impact of extreme weather conditions on crops.
· Dr. Theresa Moran, Assistant Professor & Food Studies Theme Director, Sustainable Living Hub Coordinator, discussed sustainability, food security, and collaborations with farmers and local organizations.
· Representatives from Rural Action, a non-profit organization serving Southeastern Ohio, including Debbie Phillips, Chief Executive Officer; Brian Vadakin, Chief Program Officer; Tom Redfern, Director of Sustainable Agriculture & Forestry; Joe Barbaree, Sustainable Agriculture & Forestry Program Manager; and Paul Patton, Social Enterprise Director; along with Badger Johnson, Consultant and Field Technician, Paradise Ecological Services; Ryan Hottle, Visiting Assistant Professor and Farm Director, Kenyon College; and Dr. Justus discussed challenges facing farmers in eastern Maharashtra and Rural Action’s work to build healthy local food economies in Appalachian Ohio.
At the Athens Rotary Club, Dr. Raut and Meeta Gawande gave presentations commemorating projects conducted by Athens Rotary Club, Umarkhed Rotary Club, Altus
Area Sunset Rotary Club, Ozark Rotary Club and Rotary International. Matching grant projects and club grants over two decades brought clean drinking water, computers, books and equipment to GSG College and provided bore wells and drip irrigation to surrounding farms and villages.