Travelling Professors

TravellingProf

I started working in Mauritius as a Consultant in 1998. I did some work on modelling of air emissions from Valentina Industrial Estate then.

In 2000, I got an opportunity to teach few sessions on Cleaner Production to Executive students at University of Mauritius (UoM). The classes used to start at 4 00 pm in the afternoon and end by 6 00 pm. After the sessions were done, I used to be dropped by the University car to my favorite hotel Vilas Caroline that was on the beach of flic and flac.

Vilas_Caroline

Vilas Caroline did special things for me. Mrs Narain, the manager, used to set up for me on the beach an easy chair with a library shelf and a lamp. The library shelf had books that I used to carry from Mumbai to read. I would then settle during sunset with a blend of Mauritian rum and coke and read books that I never found time otherwise. The sound of waves in the background used to be so touching – that made the book reading inspiring and sometimes thoughtful. A chef would walk in at around 8 pm to take the order for dinner. Mrs Narain never presented me a menu – she used to say – we will cook what you want! What a luxury and understanding!

One of the evenings as I stepped out of the class and reached the car parking area, I saw that there was an elderly couple already siting in “my car”. I paused – thinking some “mistake” and started looking around for another car. The man from the car waived and stepped out. He said “It’s your car my friend. I am Professor Allen and this is my wife Joe. We both teach like you at the University. Today our car has been taken to the Garage for servicing. So can we take a ride in your car to our hotel? We live in a motel close to Vilas Caroline”.  He was wearing a beach hat and had a friendly face. We shook hands. I said “No problems” and took front seat next to the driver.

“So Professors Allen and Joe- what do you do at UoM?” I started the conversation. Joe was quick to respond. “I teach economics. I am French. Allen is British. Don’t you make this out from his accent? Allen teaches applied mathematics”. In few minutes, I learnt that Allen and Joe have been regulars at UoM for the past 5 years and teach graduate students modules that span over 3 weeks. These modules fit into the academic requirements of UoM.

“Do you teach only at UoM?” I asked. Allen explained that they teach at a number of universities across the world. “We have selected 6 locations and teach when the weather is the best and there are festivities around that we can enjoy. So, in January; we teach at Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore; in March we are at University of Aachen in Germany; then in May in Mauritius followed by teaching at Stanford University in July. We then move to Tokyo University in October. November teaching is at Asian Institute of Management in Manila”

 

WorldMap

This was fascinating. “What about June-August?” I was curious to know.

“We also do some teaching on a cruise. We did this on Queen Elizabeth 2 initially but now we do such sessions on Alaska Cruise liners. These cruise teaching sessions are in July-August” Allen explained.

Are people interested to learn on a cruise?

Joe had an interesting explanation. “We normally pick up a corporate house and teach their top teams through case studies how economics and applied mathematics could be used for better business planning and analyses- pedagogy used in these sessions is very innovative and is really our brand. We don’t overload.. We work in an informal setup. In company of nature, people tend to learn more effectively.”

Cruise

Allen added “Our son and daughter join the cruise with spouses. My son-in-law is a Green Chef and he does some fine cooking for the participants depending on his moods; daughter is a Yoga freak and so she takes on some Yoga sessions. Our son works for a newspaper and does a travelogue. His wife is a photographer and both of them usually produce a creative at the end of the journey. Basically, we have fun as a family and it is like having an annual get together – fully sponsored!! And we make new friends”

Very neat I said. I felt real envious about the life of these travelling professors. I decided that that should be my plan too. Finding six universities shouldn’t be too hard.

“But what about preparation of teaching materials Professors- that must be some work for you”. Professor Allen smiled “Oh, don’t leak this secret to others but let me tell you. The last assignment in our courses is to update our slide decks! The students work rock hard to ensure that all slides are updated with latest statistics, case studies added/verified and a pen drive is created for us as a submission with most updated resources from the web. We move to the next destination with this output”.  That was something smart!

The Professors got off. I reached Vilas Caroline. Mrs Narain was at the reception “How come late today Dr Modak? She asked. “Oh nothing, met some new friends” I said. “Please could you get me two shots of rum and coke? I need to introspect my life a bit more today”

(cover image sourced from www.cubastudytours.com)

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5 thoughts on “Travelling Professors

  1. “Travelling Professors”. Too good to read. I feel jealous, envious and what not!!!! Dr Modak, I always find your articles inspiring and thought provoking. I feel our social and family fabric stops many Professors to go for such beautiful experiments and thus their knowledge sharing is very limited with one or two institutions for significantly long span of time.

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    • I agree. Years ago I recall there was a scheme that we could teach in summer at different universities in India. I dont know whether this scheme is on and whether used by the Faculty. Most Indian faculty however operate various international projects with universities abroad and take on position of a Visiting Faculty. Indeed, teaching at various institutions makes a difference.

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