Think About It

A Visit to India: Part I - An Early Morning Walk

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | July 31, 2010

"It is impossible to be unmoved by India."
Nicki Grihault

Evie and I recently spent a week in Bangalore, India, where I spoke to a group of about 50 educational leaders from India and beyond on the subject of leadership. Today will be the first column of a three-part series on that visit. 

We stayed on the twenty-one acre campus of Southern Asia Bible College (SABC) where the seminar was held. Founded in 1951, SABC has sent out scores of leaders to change the world. 

It was about 6:45am on our third day when I went for an early morning walk. Although breakfast would be in about an hour, I was in India but now I wanted India to be in me. As I unlocked the front door and walked out into the cool, humid air I knew immediately I wasn't "in Kansas anymore." 

Old clay flower pots filled with tropical plants lined the sidewalk. Bricks on edge kept the lush green grass from spreading into the flowers. My eyes feasted on the hibiscus and ferns and trees and bogenvelia. 

I had hardly taken ten steps and my sensory receptors were overloaded. I had to keep walking. I passed a three-story apartment building and there in the driveway was a basketball hoop with a torn NBA net. I had heard someone bouncing a basketball a day or so before and later I learned that the son of SABC's president dreams of playing in the NBA. 

Even before I went outside I heard the sound of construction. As I got closer to those sounds I realized workers were building a very long wooden form for concrete about three feet square all along the road at the front of the campus. The government is widening the road from two lanes to four lanes and this will become the underground drainage ditch. They must have started at sunrise because by then it was 7:00am and they were going strong. 

I stood there just outside the front gate looking and listening. Traffic whizzed by. Trucks. Busses. Scooters. Bikes. Cars. Auto rickshaws (I'll explain later). People dressed in colorful clothes were on their way to work. 

Just as I turned to re-enter the campus, I saw the college sign. I had already been taking pictures but I knew this was one photo I couldn't miss. Once inside I saw to my left a beautifully cared for flowering bush and tropical tree garden. A granite bench was positioned in just the right place. A sign nearby said, "Please don't pluck the flowers." 

Most of the architecture of Bangalore is masonry and that is also true of the campus. I stepped inside the archway of the administration building and on the walls I saw familiar college campus signs: Admissions; Student Life; Cashier; Finance and Operations; Vice President and Dean; President. 

I walked to the chapel, the dormitories, and the auditorium. As I neared the mess hall, a third year student from Burma began ringing the breakfast bell. I asked him if I could ring it also and he graciously agreed. 

SABC is just like VFCC because its early morning sights and sounds and smells also fed my soul. But more important than the buildings and foliage is the mission of both places which makes them special. 

And that mission is about the students. During my walk the husband of one of the students stopped his car to greet me before he drove one hour to his job. I met students preparing food in the mess hall. I met the children of SABC leaders on their way to school dressed in their neatly pressed uniforms. I met a faculty member, an administrator's wife, and the wife of a retired president. 

I took notes. I took pictures. I later wrote in my diary. I did everything I could to preserve the priceless memories of an early morning walk in India. 

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA 
Responses can be mailed to president@vfcc.edu
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