Mount Union Professors Travel to India
March 10, 2014 - by Hannah Shaffer
Three professors at the University of Mount Union immersed themselves in Indian culture on a recent trip to Bangalore, India, keeping the invaluable partnership between Mount and Christ University alive.
Dr. Peter Schneller, professor of education, Dr. Ivory Lyons, professor of religion and chair of the philosophy and religious studies department, and Dr. Jennifer Martin, assistant professor of education, traveled to India to take part in the conference “Bounds of Ethics in a Globalized World,” which took place in January.
The international conference, held by Christ University, gave the professors an opportunity to interact with and present to students and instructors from all over the world, with around 28 countries represented.
Schneller has been involved in the partnership between Mount Union and Christ University since the beginning and refers to it as an “undiscovered treasure that we need to develop.” Since 2007, seven priests from Christ University have traveled to Mount Union in order to attend lectures, participate in class discussions and visit nearby churches. In addition, Lyons has taught at Christ University as well.
In addition to the professors’ recent trip to India, a few Mount students have traveled to Bangalore to attend summer classes through the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC) program. Classes in India have also been taught by Mount Union professors, including Dr. Jamie Capuzza and Professor Mark McConnell.
According to Schneller, Mount Union and Christ University both benefit greatly from the partnership. What Mount Union brings to India is a different perspective.
“American education is the envy of the world,” Schneller said. “Here, we are highly creative and unique in our teaching methods.”
“We’re the academic model,”Lyons agreed.
Through the partnership, Mount Union has formed relationships, acquired friendships, felt spiritual uplift and gained excitement for future opportunities.
“Anything is possible. I learned a great deal and want to try something different and partner with education students at Christ University next year,” said Martin.
Martin stated that when entering into a classroom to teach, students stood out of respect. Lyons and Schneller agreed, recognizing that students also erased the chalkboard for lecturers after their presentations, clapped when they were done speaking and carried their briefcases for them.
“They know how to host people. They put guests next to God,” Schneller said.
Martin emphasized how important it is to travel with an open mind.
“I say ‘yes’ to everything,” she said.
What she found most difficult in India was crossing the busy streets.
Lyons said his favorite memories of the trip were spending New Years in India with his colleagues and getting the chance to hear the Dalai Lama speak at Christ University.
He hopes that more students and professors take advantage of the partnership with Christ University, noting that Mount students need more exposure to students globally. Lyons also emphasized how accepting Indian culture is to work with those of different faiths. While in Bangalore, the professors took part in religious services and noted that religion is simply a part of their culture.
“In India, they’re not trying to convert you. It’s not ‘either/or’ it’s ‘both/and’,” Lyons said.
Schneller hopes to encourage more of the Mount Union family to experience the Indian culture and looks forward to building an even stronger partnership with Christ University.
“We need to exchange more globally. This is what real learning is,” Schneller said.
As part of the partnership, Father Biju Kunnumpurath of Christ University has spent the academic year teaching at Mount Union.
“The experience has been really good,” Kunnumpurath said. “I enjoy the campus and the classroom teaching and the teaching (here) is totally different from the Indian classrooms in terns of teaching methodologies and the freedom given to students.”