In India … in saree

On this day when we celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday and legacy in the United States, I reflect on the blessing that I have to discuss diversity around the world. In discussing diversity in different places, I have a chance to learn about other cultures, and have appreciated the opportunity to talk about justice, equity, and respect for all, regardless of skin color.

I am thankful to all in India who welcomed me with such warmth. I am humbled by the students who took my bags as I approached the classroom, the entire class of students who stood up when I entered the room, and the students who brought me water at the beginning of the session, and tea in the middle. I am grateful to the women who told me their stories and shared diversity from their perspectives. I appreciate the men who referred to me as “Distinguished Mentor” and to the young male students who listened intently and promised to heed my words as I asked them to be champions for their female peers. I learned so much and was immersed in respect. What an experience!

I thank Dr. Sushma Kulkarni, the chair of our diversity session for her encouragement, leadership, and advice. I also thank the Global Engineering Deans Council/Airbus Diversity Committee for inviting me to participate in the ICTIEE. Thank you to Jennifer, Rohit, Adveet, and Dhinesh for inviting me to be part of the ISF.  It was a pleasure and an honor to be able to be “in saree” for the celebratory evening event at the Radisson Blu Pune Kharadi. (Special thanks to Manasi for helping to dress me, and to Tappaswini and Zeba for helping in the background. Thanks to all in the Radisson (Mr. Sanjay Singh and team) for their impeccable service.)

In Saree

I especially appreciated the welcome from the women who treated me like family – this includes the women from the conference, those in the hotel, and those whom I met in town.  Sometimes, working in STEM envir20160111_102622onments — as a woman – and a woman from an underrepresented group — can be tiring. Unfortunately, I’ve experienced some conferences where the environment wasn’t welcoming, and where my “hello” has been met with a stare or just ignored. (There are several studies that discuss unwelcoming climates and toxic environments.) However, the experience in India has been extremely welcoming; it was nothing short of wonderful. It is invigorating to say hello to someone and have them greet you in return. It is uplifting to smile in someone’s direction and have them smile and nod back. (In my culture, we often refer to the “up-nod” as sign of respect and recognition.) It has been great to have this be part of a daily — even hourly experience in India.

Here are some additional photos from the experience in Pune, India (State of Maharashtra).

  • Locations: College of Engineering Pune, Radisson Blu Pune Kharadi
  • Events: International Conference on Transformations in Engineering Education (ICTIEE), World SPEED Indian Student Forum.

Welcoming Ceremony – College of Engineering Pune (COEP)



WORLD SPEED – Indian Student Forum – Guest Mentor





We also went to the Aga Khan Palace which serves as a memorial to Ghandi.




And of course the food was spectacular. Masala dosas for breakfast … need I say more? Of course I had more … Mysore dosas, sambar, bondas, parathas, halwa … yes, just more (Many thanks to Devendra Chef!)

food combo


Finally, if anyone, around the world, is interested in applying for the 2016 GEDC Airbus Diversity Award, please do so! Keep an eye on Information will be posted on the website, and the award ceremony will be in Seoul, Korea in November 2016.


New Jan. 31, 2016

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3 replies »

  1. YOU experience opportunities many of us only can dream of having! Thank YOU for representing us and sharing with the world your vast knowledge!! Your family & friends love YOU!!!


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