Mr. Graham Goes to India

Sully Whitely '14, Page Editor

As the first semester comes to a close, changes come with the new (and final) semester. One of those changes will be saying good-bye to Mr. Graham for a while as he takes India. But the biggest question? What exactly is Mr. Graham doing there?

Spectrum: What exactly are you doing in India?

Mr. Graham: I will be visiting schools in different parts of the country and Bangladesh to learn about how they address controversial issues, such as independence, partition and religious and ethnic conflicts. I’ll meet with teachers and observe classes in Mumbai, Chennai and Dhaka (Bangladesh). I’ll also work with teachers in Dehradun to discuss how some teachers in the US raise controversial issues in a constructive way for our students.

S: How did you decide to do this for your sabbatical?

MG: Having studied the region off and on for many years and visiting western India for 10 days in 1999, I have developed an interest in Southern Asia. As I studied more and more, I realized that I had a monolithic narrative of its history. I wanted a better sense of the regional diversity and to move myself beyond the more simplistic Gandhi-centered narrative of the independence experience. Many Blake families, including the Persauds, Somasundaram-Nagarathnams, Modis and Thakrars have been incredibly generous with their time, providing advice, making contacts and offering accommodations for my studies.

S: Have you ever done something like this in the past, going abroad for a long period of time?

MG: I studied in England for 10 months during my junior year of college, but this opportunity requires more independent planning and coordination than that experience. I will spend time researching and learning some Hindi before I go in late February.

S: What will you miss most about Blake and Minnesota while you’re away?

MG: I’ll miss my family – at least those who won’t be with me.  I’ll will definitely miss seeing students and colleagues in my classes and in the hallways.  It’s a terrific thing to be able to walk into our community knowing that I’ll be interacting with engaged, interesting and caring people. Even this year, I don’t think I’ll miss a March snow storm.  I will miss baked goods, but I’m sure that I’ll come find some things to expand that horizon.