As a first such joint initiative between Women Studies’ Department- Pondicherry University, Kasthurba College for Women-Villianur, and Sharana collaborated in a half day program at the Kasthurba College for Women titled GENDER, RURAL DEVELOPMENT AND EDUCATION: AN INTERFACE.

While Sharana regularly receives students pursuing their fieldwork into our programs from both the Pondicherry University Masters in Social Work as well as the Kasthurba Bachelors in Social Work programme; this particular event was spearheaded by Sharana board member and head of Department of Women Studies at the Pondicherry University, Dr Nalini.

Mr Anoop, Head of Department of Social work at the Kasthurba college and his team, research students of the Women Studies’ department as well as staff at Sharana worked together in preparing for the program held on the morning of the 16th of October. 9 students from Norway and 1 student from the US studying social work and currently doing their internship at Sharana visited the Kasthurba Collage for an Interface with about 50 students of the college along with some of the staff of Sharana and research scholars of the Pondicherry University.

The program began started with an inaugural function attended by the Principal of the Kasthuba College- Dr. Cheryl-Ann G. Shivan; she welcomed the members of Sharana and Pondicherry into their college and has extended her support for any future collaborations. She shared the dias with Dr Nalini and Rajkala.

The program then started with a presentation by Dr Anoop of the Bachelors of Social Work course in their college, the cultural context and difficulties faced and the success stories produced by the College.

Another teacher went on the present the problems faced by women in India.

The program took a surprise turn when one of the students of Kasthuba showed everyone a Powerpoint Presentation she had made on Norway! The students of Norway applauded her efforts and were impressed with how much she had been able to learn about their country in just 2 days through the Internet. The Norwegian students from Sharana then went on to present the Bachelors in Social Work course in Norway; along with some cultural introductions to their country as well, they also sang their National Anthem for everyone.

After a quick break for some hot tea and vadas, the session resumed to some group work, where all the students were divided into 4 groups and had to discuss together and then present to the rest of the groups certain thoughts they had on Women Development- this group work helped the Indian and Foreign students to work together, exchange ideas and learn about each other’s countries, cultural differences as well as similar problems which may exist in both countries such as unequal pay for the same job for men and women.

The day ended with a 1-hour cultural program that the students of Kasthurba College had specially prepared for the students from Sharana; which included a skit, a mime, some songs and wonderfully choreographed dances. The students from Norway were spellbound with the grace and fluidity of the dances, and the power of the other acts.

To conclude, it was a morning well spent, one of cultural and academic learning and mutual respect and understanding. We are sure that this is one of many such events to follow.