My Fulbright experience in India in spring 2008 allowed me to reconnect and give back to my old country. Since I moved to the United States in 1989, winds of liberalization had blown over India, rapidly changing the economic, social, cultural and mass media scenes. I had seen mere glimpses of these changes during my four short visits during a period of nearly two decades.
I taught two graduate courses in mass communication at the Manipal Institute of Communication (MIC) at Manipal University, a private school located on the West Coast of Karnataka State in South India. I also created a Center for Media and Marketing Communication Research and involved my students there with my research on the digital divide and cell phone use among different groups of people residing in Manipal and surrounding towns and villages including fishermen. Earlier, people had to wait for eight to ten years to get a phone connection but in 2008 people on the streets walked around with a cell phone that changed how they communicated and conducted their businesses. Among the people who visited me in Manipal at my invitation were two of my former students at Texas State University who shared their experiences with MIC students.
During my stay, I was able to visit various places all over India. Above all, I had the pleasure of going to Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka State, my hometown, and visiting my family and friends. This trip was extra special because I was following in my father’s footsteps. My father came to the United States as a Fulbright Scholar and his educational and cultural experiences served as an inspiration to me.
Sandhya Rao – Fulbright to India 2008