Education and Service: Washington Meets Bollywood

Posted by Robyn Remeika
July 18, 2009
Secretary Clinton With Bollywood Actor Aamir Khan in Mumbai

Interactive Travel Map | Text the SecretaryAbout the Author: Robyn Remeika serves as the Public Diplomacy Officer covering cultural affairs at the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai, India.

The campus of St. Xavier's College in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) was buzzing in anticipation of Secretary Clinton's town hall style meeting. The historic Gothic heritage building was filled with the beaming faces of young volunteer teachers from NGOs Teach for India as well as Teach India.

As the Secretary entered the room, television cameramen and print media photographers jostled for position while the audience members craned their necks for a better view. After all, it's not every day that the U.S. Secretary of State joins in conversation with Bollywood. But today, Secretary Clinton was joined by Aamir Khan, one of India's most famous, critically acclaimed, and socially conscious actors and directors. The conversation was steered by Arnab Goswami, Editor-in-Chief of Times Now, a top Indian news channel.

Mr. Khan and Mr. Goswami warmly greeted the Secretary, and she reciprocated. She then turned to the gathering of approximately 75 young educators, who were clearly bristling with excitement at the chance to interact directly with public figures they hold in such high esteem.

Secretary Clinton connected with them, underlining the importance of education in the world's largest, and the world's oldest, democracies. She and Mr. Khan agreed that classroom education is less effective when focused merely on rote memorization or tests. Secretary Clinton noted that cooperation and collaboration are just as important as competition among countries as well as people.

Teach India, the community service initiative of the Times Media Group, has seen a flood of applications since launching in 2008. Aamir Khan is the brand ambassador for both Teach India and Teach for India, and strongly supports them both. The tone of the conversation between Secretary Clinton and Aamir Khan was friendly and relaxed. I felt like I was looking into someone's living room. It may have been the monsoon season in Mumbai, but that did nothing to dampen the mood inside the historic hall at St. Xavier's.

When moderator Arnab Goswami asked for questions from the audience, and I could feel the eagerness in the room. The volunteers' questions ranged widely, from English as a second language to children's rights.

The event ended far too quickly in the eyes of the audience. This exchange of thoughts and opinions, with two of their role models, is a highlight they will never forget.

Comments

Comments

joe
|
Tennessee, USA
July 18, 2009

Joe in Tennessee writes:

I would be more concerned about Trade and Economics then entertainment and education.

India owes its present state to the U.S.A. We educated their people, provided funds here in the U.S. not available to U.S. citizens for business and lost many of our service and IT related jobs to their low cost ratios. In fact over thirty percent of ALL IT jobs in the U.S. went to India.

The problem being: When India upgraded their military the purchased billions in Russian Navy, Air and Ground hardware. When they upgraded their energy, they went again to Russia for all but one of their nuclear plants. WHEN does the U.S., who helped more than any other country from feeding its poor to education to expansion of their democracy get a return on its investment?

soraya
|
Philippines
July 18, 2009

Soraya in the Philippines writes:

I definitely agree with Sec Clinton when she said that classroom education is less effective when focused merely on rote memory and tests. Philippine public schools are so focused on preparing for the national achievement test which ends in teaching for the test and teaching to prepare students for skills needed for life ahead

Rosemary
|
New Jersey, USA
July 18, 2009

Rosemary in New Jersey writes:

Thanks Robyn, for sharing this with us. I teach in a graduate program for aspiring ESL teachers, and I always love to see Hillary reaching out to young teachers. Of course they must have been very excited to have this opportunity, and I love the way Hillary manages to interact with so many people in the countries she visits. She is a very special person, and she is doing an impressive job. Just superb!

ROSEY
July 20, 2009

Rosey writes:

Thanks Robyn, for sharing this with us....

I definitely agree with Sec Clinton when she said that classroom education is less effective when focused merely on rote memory and tests. Philippine public schools are so focused on preparing for the national achievement test which ends in teaching for the test and teaching to prepare students for skills needed for life ahead...

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