Thursday, July 17, 2008

CMS College

On June 30 I was thrilled to see my inbox had been graced by my an email containing my specific site placement in India. I had gotten the impression that there were only about two possible sites for men and I had begun leaning toward one. I anxiously opened it to find I had been placed at CMS College, my top choice.

The following information was included in the email:

The work assignment can include possible tasks from those below:
  • Engaging a few classes on areas like developing communication skills, creative writing and media.
  • Involving in student activities like film club, English chit –chat club, nature club and other interested fields.
  • Associating with College Chapel service, Bible study groups and college choir.
  • Associating with college magazine.
  • Visiting churches and associating with youth groups on week ends.
  • Visiting Boy’s Home at Kanam, near Kottayam
  • Visiting homes of students and staff and get a clear understanding of the community around.
  • Any other area that the volunteer may come across, and would like to associate with.
Accommodation: staying in the postgraduate student's hostel/dormitory with a bath/toilet attached private room for oneself and eating with the students.
Words and phrases including, "creative writing... film club... nature club... Bible study groups... visiting churches... visiting Boy’s Home... visiting homes of students... any other area... and private room," where of particular excitement. And we're just going to gloss over the part that suggested I may be singing. I'm also looking forward to working with people who are essentially my peers. I'm excited to discover the nuances within the similarities and differences of life for Indians that are my age.

Naturally I looked to Wikipedia to jump start my research of CMS. It is a (now) co-ed college began by missionaries in 1817. One site called it the first college in India and another just said Kerala. Either way, it has a lot of history. The college also boasts an impressive list of alumni and appears to be quite prestigious. I'm glad that I wasn't able to find too much information on it as there will be plenty mystery surrounding my new home upon arrival in September.

The 60,000 population town of Kottayam that CMS calls home also seems like a unique place. Not only is it home to the first printing press in Kerala, it was the first city in India to achieve 100% literacy. That is huge! I'm fairly certain a few towns surrounding me in my beloved Texas haven't achieved that. Another point of interest is that the Kottayam District (think county) is 45.83% Christian, coming in just under Hinduism. This is very unique to the country which is only 2.3% Christian. These statistics simply speak to the pluralistic society found in Kerala. A society I hope to learn from in order to have on new outlook on the wounds that we have here in the States between denominations.

All in all, I'm now even more energized about my upcoming year, which I anticipate will be full of challenges and blessings.

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