The Indian Collegiate Way
21 May 2007 (collegiateway.org) — The Collegiate Way of living is valued around the world, and just as we had a report a few days ago from the residential colleges of the University Putra Malaysia, so today comes news of a new principal of St. Stephen’s College at the University of Delhi, one of the oldest university colleges in India, as reported in the Delhi Newsline of expressindia.com:
Homecoming for Thampu at St Stephen’s CollegePallavi Singh
New Delhi, May 21: Soft-spoken and polite: this is how one would describe Reverend Valson Thampu, who took over as Officer on Special Duty at Delhi University’s St Stephen’s College on Monday.
For a heady first day in office that saw a string of visitors and subsequent bouquets dropping in, Thampu met all the adulation calmly. And though his plans for the college are not to be divulged yet, one can smell a whiff of idealism when he talks.
“The founders wanted it to be a residential college so that students from all sections of society could come and stay together and oneness of India could be experienced…. I sincerely believe my classroom is India,” he said.
It was a homecoming for Thampu, who is back in the college after a gap of almost four years. He first joined St Stephen’s College in 1971 as a post-graduate student of English from Mabelikara district in Kerala. By the time he passed out, he had decided to stay on. He joined the college’s English Department in 1973 as a teacher and continued for the next 30 years.
“When I came here, I was totally awe-inspired. I could sense an aura of greatness. Stephen’s brought out the best in me,” he reminisced.
But while times were sublime when he was a student, he finds the young generation of today a “continuation of life.” “I don’t believe in radical discontinuities. Life constantly flows. While you may meet brazenness in youngsters, you also meet courtesy in young people. In fact, several young people have written to me about voluntary reduction in their pocket money,” he said.
Thampu retired from the college’s English Department in 2003 and has since traversed places and positions, organising marches for communal harmony, penning essays on Christianity and serving as member at National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, among other things. But the feeling of being back at Stephen’s is great, he said. “It gives me an opportunity to do something for the college. The purpose of education is to integrate an individual with society…. I hope to gradually transfer my vision to my colleagues and students,” he said.
And for those who may not make it to the college this year, Thampu has words of wisdom: “It’s not important where you are but who you are. Trust me, you can grow wherever you are.”