Exchange students from India return home with love for Livingstone

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 11, 2018

Staff report

SALISBURY — It’s 7,818 miles from Livingstone College to Bareilly, India. But for a delegation of Invertis University students, Livingstone is as close as their hearts.

Seven students from Invertis University spent the fall semester studying at Livingstone College as part of an international student exchange program between the two schools.

Before the holiday break, Livingstone hosted a farewell luncheon for the group, which gave the international visitors a chance to show their gratitude and to share their learning experience.

Led by Earl Brown, director of the Livingstone College International Studies Program, the students spent the semester not only studying on campus but also visiting tourist sites and exploring American culture.

The students traveled to Washington and visited the White House; spent a day at Carowinds; and toured nearby museums and attractions. They saw their first football game and NASCAR race and participated in Livingstone’s homecoming, parade, and talent and fashion shows.

The students performed a native dance at Livingstone’s homecoming talent show with one of them, Kirat Singh, competing and winning first place. Another student was on the winning quiz bowl team.

The differences between the education systems are striking, the students said. Here, exams can be multiple choice, group activities are embraced and mobile phones are allowed in class. Not so in India.

“You can say in India we are education-feared, but here we are education-friendly,” said Kirat Singh.

“We learned many things that will be beneficial to us in the future. The students here are really friendly. We were very shy, and they came to us and showed their love to us,” said Vaibhav Singh. “It was so good to be here, and we enjoyed it a lot – each and every thing.”

Besides a few cultural differences and their accents, there were few challenges, the students agreed.

“Before coming to the United States, we never expected we would have such a good experience here,” Vaibhav Singh said. “The most important and grateful person of our journey was no other than Mr. Earl Brown. He helped us to understand African-American culture and was very kind to take us to all the places.”

Livingstone President Jimmy R. Jenkins Sr. thanked the faculty and staff for their support. He especially thanked Brown for his commitment to the international program, referring to him as the caretaker.

It was not unusual for Brown to give up a holiday in order to afford the international students more American experiences.

In a follow-up letter sent to Jenkins on the students’ last day in the United States, the students said these were “the best days of our life that can never be forgotten. Thank you for initiating this exchange program, which helped us to learn in a new culture so easily.”

“The irony of all of this is there is not much difference among people,” Jenkins said. “We all seek the same things in life in order to create a quality of life. Unfortunately, there are forces that come into play that create the kind of negativism and strife and turmoil that makes life difficult.”

A new delegation of students from India is expected for the spring semester. Applications are being accepted for Livingstone students who wish to study abroad.

Last fall, Livingstone College officials traveled to India and negotiated a new memorandum of understanding with another institution, Lovely Professional University.

To hear about the exchange students’ experience in their own words, click here.