Xavier's College, Obama visit 'once in a lifetime opportunity'
Wednesday November 03, 2010 12:23:46 PM,
The excitement is palpable. The 130-year-old St Xavier's College
here is waiting with baited breath for US President Barack Obama
to address 300 students on its premises Nov 7 and can't help but
feel a sense of pride for being the chosen one.
Obama's visit is "a once in a lifetime opportunity", college
principal Father Frazer Mascarenhas told IANS.
"It is a great privilege to have the president of any country and
especially the US come to visit us and to speak to our students.
Our students and all of us are very excited."
"We are particularly happy that president Obama is coming because
of what he stands for, because of the policies he has embarked
"We are also happy as it does mean that there is acknowledgement
of us being one of the better colleges in the country and that we
have a very good faculty and that we have the best students from
all over the country," Mascarenhas added.
St Xavier's is Maharashtra's first college to have got a degree of
autonomy within the Mumbai University system. It has 4,000
Obama will address about 300 students - about 200 from the host
college and 100 from other colleges in south Mumbai - KC College,
HR College of Commerce, St Wilson College and St Andrew's College
and Jai Hind College.
"These students have been chosen by the principals of other
colleges or by the heads of my department who are more in contact
with my students. These are the ones who have contributed to
activities in the college, who are academically good and hence are
considered to be among the best students in the country,"
A wooden stage is being constructed at the basketball court of the
college for Obama's address.
Mascarenhas said Obama should try to initiate exchanges between
universities in the US and India as all education needs to be
international to meet global needs.
"Students have to have an inter-cultural experience. What would be
good for both (US and India) and for education in general would be
to increase contact and short term exposure between the faculty
and students of our two countries," Mascarenhas said.
"We do hope that he will be able to take that forward. That will
be our appeal to him. If we have the opportunity, we will convey
to him that there has to be more interaction between the
students," he added.
Mascarenhas felt it was right to be interacting with the younger
generation as it would make a better world for all.
"He is addressing the young leaders of tomorrow. India is on the
world stage now. We are considered an important power - both
economically and otherwise. To deal with some of the top students
of India would be a meaningful exercise also for him," Mascarenhas
The iron, stone, brick and mortar structure, famous for its
Indo-Gothic architecture, with arches along its corridors, has
been frequent stopover for foreign and Indian dignitaries. In the
last two years, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, author
Gregory David Roberts, former Indian president A.P. J. Abdul Kalam
have come visiting. It has also been a favourite backdrop for
Bollywood movies like "Jaane Tu Ya Jane Na" and "Main Hoon Na".
The college will have a very simple welcome due to security
reasons. Mascarenhas felt that an elaborate traditional welcome
will not be possible in such a case. "A small delegation of the
college will welcome him at the gate," he said.
Mumbai will be the first stop for Obama who will be visiting India
from Nov 6-9.
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