Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Open Letter #2

Here is the first, in case anyone is interested.

This was written to fellow COEP students, on the 4th March '08.
The Importance of Giving Back

Dear Fellow Students,

Today I attended the lecture by Dr.Smoot in our college about the
origins of our universe. Granted that he could've been more engaging
and probably made his talk better suited to the audience, and more
far-ranging - it still was a pretty darn neat. I don't mean to be
derisive or anything here, but I was personally glad to see our huge
auditorium filled people, when no one was singing or dancing. We must
also commend the folks from Honeywell for thinking of such a great
idea, and more importantly executing it so well.

But on a wider scale, this is an excellent opportunity to talk about
our responsibility as students. I'm in my final year, and I'll pass
out this year. I've seen the college change under autonomy, and a lot
of what is happening is excellent and I personally like it a lot. A
lot of this is due to Dr. Sahasrabudhe, and the new regime of
administrators and policy-makers at COEP. We must commend them for the
work they're doing, albeit in small, sometimes unseen ways. What I've
found out about them is that, most importantly, they're reasonable
people who are willing to listen to us. So as students, it's important
that we think of issues that concern us, and make sure they're
addressed. The college has changed, and will keep changing, and it's
important we change along with it.

More importantly, the point of writing this email is that we remain
connected to our college, in whatever way possible. As I'm sure most
of you will realise, what our college gives to us is not instruction
in *a* particular subject or a particular discipline, but general
lessons overall. It also gives us opportunities and a brand - that has
been created by a lot of other students, who were exactly like us in
many ways. So realising that COEP is not just another chapter in your
life, but a part of your identity as a person is an extremely
important step into this journey of giving back.

We're a culture of quantity. To be frank, though we might have
hundreds of thousands of institutions of higher education. their
quality is abysmal to say the least. Even COEP, considered to be among
the best in the country, has a long way to go - if it has to come even
close to its American or European counterparts. And we, as students
have an important part to play, in achieving this goal. I'm sure we'll
get there sometime - but like good, professional organisations we must
set targets, and achieving transformational change within our
lifetimes has to be our goal.

On a more basic level here are a few ways one can stay connected, and
"give back" to use a cliched term.

1. Time
Come back. Visit. Say hi to old folks, old professors. Drop in
whenever you're in town and see what's going on. Maybe even teach,
full time or part-time. Mentor someone.

2. Money + Time
Set up prizes, develop a sustainable scheme for keeping these going.
I'm sure if everyone sets apart Rs.10,000 per year, to award one
deserving student, that itself would be a great achievement. People
are already doing this in small measures - and you can think of
innovative and effective ways to make your money count.

3. Just Money
This is the simplest really. Donate to college fund on a regular
basis. Convince colleagues, maybe past students to give back too. I've
just talked to a friend of mine who passed out, and he said he'd give
$2000 a year to the college, once he starts earning. That's not bad,

I hope I've got you thinking in this regard via this mail. The whole
point is to keep this idea somewhere in the back of your mind. As long
as the thought is there, we'll maybe have our own Nobel Laureate
addressing people in 50 years time!



madhura said...

You're absolutely right,Abhishek.In fact,what you said is the need of the day.I haven't really been around much as yet,but I do feel the same pride in our institution and agree with you completely on the importance of giving back;and I'll certainly try to do my bit towards it. :-)

[I'm the same idiot who came for the newbie quiz but still dont/cant attend the regular sessions]

Abhishek said...

Thanks for identifying. I'd forgotten your name ;)

And yeah, I didn't expect a comment agreeing from a freshie. Not bad!