Oakton professor reflects on Indian exchange
Davros with Vice Chancellor Sunaina Singh of The English and Foreign Languages University in Hyderabad, India. | Provided
Updated: February 19, 2013 12:00PM
Michael Davros, of Lincolnwood, rang in the new year far from home in Hyderabad, India’s fourth most populous city.
The adjunct English professor at Oakton Community College spent the first two weeks of January participating in a faculty exchange program between Oakton and The English and Foreign Languages University.
His running blog of photos at mdavros.tumblr.com showcases life in India, particularly for Lincolnwood students at School District 74, where he serves on the Board of Education. Davros is also sharing his intellectual exchanges and general observations from halfway around the world, like how navigating the streets of Hyderabad takes some serious skill. “I’ve seen as many as four children on the back of a scooter,” he wrote in one posting. “I doubt I’ll complain about Chicago traffic any time soon.”
The Lincolnwood Review caught up with Davros while he was in Hyderabad via email.
Q. Have you participated in an exchange program before?
A. I have conducted two study tours with students to Greece through Northeastern Illinois University in 2007 and 2008. This is my first faculty exchange trip and I’ve never had an exchange with other universities in India. I’m hoping this will not be my last opportunity because much remains to be done.
Q. What has been your most eye-opening experience thus far?
A. Well, that’s not easy to say. The bustle of the universe seems to be contained in this one city. Hyderabad is larger than Chicago and, consequently, more congested. Extremes of wealth are situated beside abject poverty, and yet there is great hope here for a resurgent and emergent economy. Exposure to Hinduism has been eye-opening. I’m never going to get a handle on how religions have hybridized, with elements of Buddhism and Hinduism coming in contact with each other.
Q. Based on your observations, how is the education system in India different than in the United States? How are they similar?
A. The Indian system descended from the British system. Grade levels are not equivalent with U.S. grade levels. The concept of local control, such as the use of school boards in the U.S., is relatively unknown as the state of Andhra Pradesh makes the decisions for this locale.
Q. What makes cultural exchanges important?
A. Just knowing someone else in another country can be very comforting. I’ve gotten to know my host family well. My colleague Vedasharan Mallemari will be visiting with my family and with the Oakton family in April, so we’ll have yet another opportunity for exchange. My host family and I have already determined that the time is too short, and my newfound colleagues at the university seem to be saying that it would be great to get together again. The exchanges foster fellowship and good will, and I think those things are irreplaceable.
Q. What do you hope to take away from this trip?
A. What I hope to take away is continued good will and a sense of continued cooperation between the two schools. We have much to share and benefit from a better understanding of the two education systems.