For the last 39 years St. Olaf College has offered a Global Semester comprising a five-month academic program offering five courses in different parts of the world. This year’s group of 28 students, 2 supervising faculty members and their teenage son are undertaking a global trip taking the group on visits to Switzerland (the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva), Egypt, India, Thailand, Hong Kong, China and South Korea. The students’ time in India is concentrated on lectures, discussions and field trips to facilitate a better understanding of the history, traditions and contemporary practices of religious expression in this country.
Students arriving at Quo Vadis
The travelling group, currently in the midst of its India Trip, was hosted by Quo Vadis Interfaith Dialogue Center and the Arcot Lutheran Church (ALC) on October 18th and 19th at Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu. On the first day of their visit the students performed Arunachala Girivalam on four brightly decorated bullock carts with some Indian friends from Quo Vadis.
Lunch at Lebanon Compound
After Girivalam the group was hosted at the ALC Lebanon Compound by Douglas and Jane Koon, a married couple who actually participated in the inaugural St. Olaf Global Semester 39 years ago. After enjoying a delicious Indian lunch the group were received at Arunachaleswarar Temple where a special puja was performed on their behalf. In the early evening the students experienced Ramana Ashram before returning to Quo Vadis Inter Faith Dialogue Center. The evening at the Center was the highlight of their day as they were able to interact with local Indians, participate in folk dancing, experience chapatti making and end the day with spiritual dialogue and meditation.
On Friday, 19th October, the group participated in a walking meditation on Arunachala Hill before leaving Tiruvannamalai for a one-day stay at ALC, Cuddalore where Bishop Gideon personally recounted the history of the Church in Tamil Nadu. On the 20th October the group left Tamil Nadu and returned to Bangalore where they will continue their study course at the Ecumenical Christian Centre, Bangalore (Whitfield).
After India, the group head towards Thailand for a week’s vacation before continuing their Global Semester in Hong Kong, mainland China and Korea before returning to the U.S. around January 25th, 2008.