St. Mira's College For Girls, Pune

Autonomous - Affiliated to Savitribai Phule Pune University * Undertaking

Re-accredited by NAAC 'A' Grade (Third Cycle June 2017) 2017 : NAAC score 3.41 2012 : NAAC score 3.03 Awarded: Best College-SPPU (2002); , UGC-CPE (2005), UGC-CPE (2010)

Mile

Mira International Learning Exchange (MILE) A Centre for Virtual Collaboration


About

Mira International Learning Exchange: A Centre for Virtual Collaboration arose out of its rewarding interaction with LaGuardia Community College, City University of New York and its programme titled COIL: Collaborative Online International Learning which “allows faculty partners in different parts of the world to develop a shared curricular project and engage their students using online tools (synchronous and asynchronous).” Globally other terms used to describe this practice are Virtual Exchange, Telecollaboration, Online Intercultural Exchange


Object

To promote cross-border communication and exchanges of knowledge

To be part of a process that encourages tolerance, respect and sharing

To introduce potential ideas that could lead to other virtual collaborations

To open up new horizons in global teaching and learning

To connect teachers across the world to enhance research

To connect teachers across the world to enhance research

Outcomes of the MILE courses for participating students

Comparing issues, policies, and beliefs across cultures

Exploring global ethics (e.g. ethical tourism, COVID-19)

Exposure to and engagement with divergent perspectives

Critical reflection on how various participants view the world

Providing or receiving international peer mentorship

Serving as cultural informants

Addressing and receiving feedback from international peer audience

Writing collaborative academic papers


ST MIRA’S COLLEGE STEPS INTO THE FUTURE WITH ITS VIRTUAL INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION PROGRAMME

The Department of English, St Mira's College organised an FDP on 6th July 2020 at 6.30 pm (IST) titled "An Introduction to COIL-Collaborative Online International Learning" along with LaGuardia Community College, City University of New York to begin the process of training its staff for collaborative international online learning (COIL) with faculty across the world.

COVID-19 may have brought in its wake closing of borders but in the virtual world it opened up wonderful possibilities. Due to the success of its COIL project on the partition of India, the English department has taken the initiative to form a virtual learning centre for the college. The first step is this webinar to introduce the staff to the process of collaborative learning. It will be followed by several more interactive workshops and training sessions.

Dr Olga Aksakalova, COIL Co-ordinator City University of New York that has 17 colleges under its purview, spoke on the purpose, scope and objective of COIL. She covered topics like course content and teaching methodology, intra and interdisciplinary collaborations, student-generated learning and the use of technology for brainstorming, getting to know partners and to execute a programme of about 12-15 weeks. She said that one of the advantages of COIL is that, “it provides readiness for a globalized workforce by imparting 21st-century skills like the ability to communicate with or for a global audience via digital means.”

Dr Tuli Chatterjee (LaGuardia Community College) explained the difficulties of the Partition of India COIL programme and its aims which was to craft narratives of healing out of narratives of partition by educating students to work together and build bridges that remind us we are all human.

Dr Maya Avva and Dr Alice Baldwin- Jones explained their various COIL projects. Dr Avva is from the Department of Education and wishes to explore the parallels between Spanish and Hindi whilst Dr Baldwin-Jones a social anthropologist is researching food and the politics of hunger.

The staff at St Mira’s as well as the students are all fired up to share and learn and in the process hopefully contribute to a more peaceful, tolerant and inclusive world.

La Guardia Mira COIL: The Partition of India

On the 10 th of September, 2019, St Mira’s College Pune and LaGuardia Community College New York embarked on a path-breaking pedagogical experiment and they were joined by the Department of English and Humanities, University of Liberal Arts, Dhaka, Bangladesh and Institute of Communication and Cultural Studies, University of Management and Technology, Lahore, Pakistan.

In a world that seems to be building walls, these four educational institutions collaborated on a shared syllabus to understand narratives of partition and explore narratives of healing. The students studied Ice-candy Man by Bapsi Sidhwa, Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh, “Toba Tek Singh” by Manto, “Rabeya Apa” by Ashraf Siddiqui and the article “The Great Divide” by William Dalrymple. A total of 90 students from Pune, Lahore, Dhaka, and New York collaboratively read partition literature to celebrate both differences and commonality between diverse cultures and backgrounds..

Ummesalama Karu, a second year student from St Mira’s College, says the reason she joined COIL or the collaboration was, “to know about the diversity and how people in the world are different and similar to Indians.” To which the students at LaGuardia Community College responded, “We value diversity and look forward to discussing everything.” What a wonderful way to celebrate difference!!

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1TmSp6fzTOFsyarhBFyxZ3Qex6EXXgfV2/view


Name of the Course: MILE: Education with SOUL

Course Duration:December to 20th April 2021

Number of Credits: 2 credits

Department: English

Collaborating College and Department: LaGuardia Community College, NY

Dr. Givanni M. Ildefonso-Sánchez from the Education Department, LaGuardia Community College, Dr SnoberSataravala and Suhaile Azavedo, Department of English St Mira’s College for Girls collaborated on the course MILE: Education with SOUL from December 2020 through April 2021. The inception of the course lay in a field project by the students of St Mira’s who taught the young residents of Ishratbaug, part of the NGO called Aasra, one on one over 6 months.

LaGuardia Website

Showcase video of MILE:Education with SOUL

In order to understand shared problems and philosophies of education the students of St Mira’s worked with the students in New York on SLACK. The course consisted of a pre-course interaction where Dr Givanni who synchronously engaged students in a question-and-answer session about education in America and her course. The students of St Mira’s shared an asynchronous video of the work at SOUL. The interactions consisted of icebreakers where the students shared their worlds, cultures, and passions. The next session was based on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “The Dangers of a Single Story” and students posted their single stories on SLACK and then met to discuss the issues that cropped up. The third unit was called “Lives that Matter” and addressed themes like race and caste through the poem “The Kids who Died” by Langston Hughes, gender in the Tedtalk “We should all be Feminist” by Adichie, mental health in the “R U OK” videos and sexual orientation in Eugene Lee Yang’s music video “I’m Gay”. The aim was to learn to turn the classroom into a community and a safe, inclusive, non-judgmental space. A synchronous session was conducted by Connecting Trust, a suicide prevention NGO, on recognizing warning signs and myth around mental health and suicide. The concluding synchronous session was to share what had been learnt from the course. The students also collaborated to create the beautiful video for the Showcase on the 8th of June 2021 hosted by LaGuardia Community College, NY. Apart from transnational literacy, students learnt to collaborate with people from so many different cultures and age groups in an extremely rewarding way.

Name of the Course: MILE: Borders, Home and Displacement

Course Duration:2 months (5th April 2021 to 8th June 2021)

Number of Credits: 2 credits

Department: English

Collaborating College and Department: LaGuardia Community College, New York, Dept of English

The course ‘Borders, Home and Displacement’ was held in collaboration with LaGuardia Community College. Dr. Tuli Chatterji from LaGuardia and Ms. Komal Tujare and Ms. Elizabeth Varkey of St. Mira’s were the course instructors. The course which ran from 5th April 2021 to 8th June 2021,introduced the current refugee and migrant crisis through carefully selectedpoems, short stories, narratives, articles, and visual media to students from the first-year undergraduateto the last-year postgraduate programme. Apart from providing a human lens on the lives of displaced people and the challenges faced by refugees in various parts of the globe like Syria, Afghanistan, Venezuela, South Sudan,they also learnt about the atrocities committed against various ethnic groups today like the Rohingyas and the Kashmiri pandits. The course also discussed displacement in light of the pandemic and the reverse migration it resulted in, in India.

The synchronous discussion sessions with LaGuardia Community College helped the students to understand how the pandemic has affected the lives of their peers in the US. The students discussed the refugee crisis in particular and displacement and migration in general through shared Google Docs, breakout session activities, quizzes, and creative games, all which helped them come up with creative solutions to the crises.

The course began with a guest lecture by MarijaneAndreopoulos who runs a library for refugees in Luxembourg. Marijanespoke on the refugee crisis in Europe while also introducing them to several problems that the group (especially women and children) faces on a daily basis. While recounting stories of trauma and struggle, Marijane also highlighted stories of relocation, success and joy.The students also had the privilege of interacting with Mr Kiri Atri, Assistant External Relations Officer at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), New Delhi, India. He delivered a brief talk on “Current Issues and Solutions to the Refugee Crisis” where he shared his first-hand experiences while working with refugees in India. This was followed by an hour-long Q and A session that enriched the students’ understanding and deepened their empathy towards the refugee populations.

The course ended with a showcase of the project on COIL Day held on the 8th of June 2021 where the students gave expression to their experience of this collaboration and highlighted their takeaways. They also made a short cinematic movie using their creative skills in which they presented a poetic composition by one of the students in cinematic form. The students all expressed their desire to be part of more courses of this kind.

Showcase video

Name of the Course:MILE: Angels and Demons- Global Politics and Literature

Course Duration: 30 hours, 15th March- 20th April 2021

Number of Credits: 2 credits

Department: English and Politics and Public Administration

Collaborating College and Department: Department of English, La Guardia Community College and Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University

The Department of English, LaGuardia Community College along with Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University and the Department of English and Politics and Public Administration St Mira’s College, Pune collaborated together on an interdisciplinary MILE project call “Angels and Demons”

The course revolved around the theme “Searching for Heroes” based on Zimbardo’s Ted talk “The Psychology of Evil”. In keeping with the theme, the course followed the standard format of students introducing themselves on SLACK and posting stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things on a soul stirring Padlet. This culminated in the first synchronous session on 24th March 2021. Students interacted and exchanged questions on what their idea of a hero was and why.

Introduction video

MILE: Angels and Demons Showcase Video

1st Synchronous session

3rd Synchronous Session- Russia

3rd Synchronous Session- India

Students followed the self-paced course to explore what global politics is and why international trade relations matter in the introduction section of the course. The second unit consisted of examining the graphic novel Persepolis in the light of Zimbardo’s Ted Talk. The outcome of this unit was the second synchronous session on 7th April 2021. Parivash Niazzadeh shared her experiences living through the Iran/Iraq War and Elena Kravchik unearthed the hidden holocaust and displacement of the Chechens and Ingush people of Russia.The third unit consisted of searching for heroes with respect to global politics. Students were introduced to carnage caused by the partition of India which the west is still unaware of. The students watched and discussed an excerpt from the documentary “The Day India Burned” and the ensuing Kashmir Crisis. To understand the unknown heroes, they were introduced to the Borderless World Foundation started by the social activist Adhik Kadam. On 14th April 2021 was the final synchronous session where Zahra Shatranjwala and Neha Kadali, alumni of St Mira’s, shared their experience working with the orphans set up by the Borderless World Foundation in Kashmir. Victoria Korotych elaborated on the Chechen crisis and the session ended with questions and answers. To conclude the extremely fruitful course the students worked together to make presentations for the final showcase at LaGuardia Community College. Undoubtedly this was an amazing experience and a superb collaboration where the students learnt so much about other cultures, how to interact with people from different countries and in the process introspected and learnt something new about themselves.

Name of the Course:MILE: Explorations of Choice in Context Lens

Course Duration: 15th March 2021-30th April 2021

Number of Credits: 2 credits

Department: Sociology

Collaborating College and Department: Laguardia Community College, New York

The Sociology Department at St. Mira’s College has collaborated with the LaGuardia Community College in New York for the second time. The faculty and students from the two partner institutions jointly worked on the theme, ‘Explorations of Choice in context’ from 15th March 2021 to 30th April 2021.

The research investigated the choice and decision making within the broader framework of the discussion on Individualism-Collectivism and Independent – Interdependent Self. The project looked at choice as shaped by social locations and biases based on social locations such as race/ethnicity, gender, caste and class. By understanding the social context of choice, the project aimed at developing an understanding of social diversity and also of various forms of social inequality.The project involved reading assignments; students read articles and articulated them as their reflections.The project used films as an important resource to understand themes and issues like the landmark film Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, which reveals the specific cultural context of the film.Students articulated and exchanged their responses in a synchronous session.The project also involved primary research discussions on choice-related subjects such as Education and career, love, marriage, health, sustainability, and environmental behaviours. They gathered primary data on ‘Food Choices’ - looking at whether people exercise their own opinions and choices or whether they go by what their parents, peers or larger community say. This activity gave students a chance to get hands-on information and develop skills such as data collection, data analysis and presentation. The researchaimed to develop a critical viewpoint to examine decision-making practices, developing the ability to problematize; formulate hypothesis and research questions, identify, and consult relevant sources, carry out fieldwork, employ moral and ethical standards, and write a research report.

One remarkable aspect of this project was the use of innovative technological platforms to tackle the time-space constraints. Students have learnt to use Slack which is a very user-friendly and creative platform. As part of the ‘ice-breaker’ activity, students made introductory videos, another important skill. The project thus offers participants an opportunity to enhance their ability to use digital tools and resources.

This project allowed us to enhance our understanding of how individual choices are shaped by diverse social contexts. It revealed how our everyday living is a process of internalization of constraints on one hand and of constant negotiations and creation of space on the other hand.

Showcase link

Name of the Course:MILE: Mental Health and Resilience through a Cultural Lens

Course Duration: 17th March 2021 - 29th April 2021

Number of Credits: 2 credits

Department: Psychology

Collaborating College and Department: LaGuardia College New York, College Discovery Program

As a part of the MILE Course, ‘Mental Health and Resilience through a Cultural Lens’, the Department of Psychology at St. Mira’s College collaborated with the College Discovery Program at LaGuardia Community College New York from 17th March 2021 to 29th April 2021

This program aimed at understanding the nuances of mental health and resilience through a cultural lens. The course was designed to encourage conversations around mental health, privilege, stigma, trauma and resilience through readings, personal anecdotes and life stories.

The course was conducted in asynchronous mode on Flipgrid, a platform to record their statements andwhere students exchanged their ideas and experiences with the help of video clips and messages. Students also shared their writings, personal stories through photo essays with each other and helped in building multi-cultural sensitivity about mental health concerns across the globe through Google doc. Across five weeks, the classes also met three times in person on zoom in addition to asynchronous mode.

This program opened a warm and safe space for students and faculty of bothcolleges to share stories of grief, hardships, hopes and dreams through difficult times of COVID-19. At the end of the program, students shared that it was an enriching and eye-opening experience for them to interact with individuals from different ethnicities and backgrounds. Students came away with a renewed understanding of what American students and Indian students are like, overriding prior assumptions and they found more in common as college students. The Showcase session conducted on 8th July 2021 gave us a platform to share our experience of collaborative learning with the international community of students, teachers and scholars.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1T28axCByMGjW-N_c5w7ekZWeOnKo-sw0/view?usp=sharing

Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) Faculty and Student Showcase featuring MILE: St Mira’s College for Girls

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUfwLY-RMXc&feature=youtu.be

Issues of Identity in India and US

The students of the Department of Politics and Public Administration enrolled for a MILE credit course, Issues of Identity in India and US, which included international collaboration and exchange between students from different universities and colleges. 30 students of the Department of Politics and Public Administration collaborated with the LaGuardia Community College, New York to study various issues of identity pertaining to India and the US.

The course was conducted in asynchronous mode on the Flipgrid platform wherein students participated in the course according to their time schedules. The collaborative learning aimed at enhancing student understanding of caste, race, religion and language. It aimed at inculcating a global perspective about diversity and discrimination. Ms. Veena Kenchi and Dr. Maria Savva (LaGuardia College) coordinated this MILE programme. The students have responded positively to this initiative and would love to explore more such opportunities.

Name of the Course: MILE: Issues of Identity in India and US

Course Duration: 30 hours 9th November to 6th December 2020

Number of Credits: 2 credits

Department: Department of Politics and Public Administration

Collaborating College and Department: LaGuardia College, New York

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AOf6igX5NI7kHiCpO8Lpc5SwBB97TWXy/view?usp=sharing

Whose Thali is This: Study of Food Cultures

As part of the MILE course on ‘Whose Thali is This: Study of Food Cultures,’ the Department of Sociology at St. Mira’s College, Pune collaborated with the LaGuardia Community College, New York. The main goal of this inter-cultural exchange was to gain comparative knowledge of food cultures and to understand food as an important element of social identity and distinction. The course offered students an opportunity to gain insights on social dimensions of food through various activities such as -

- Reading articles and reflecting

- Watching a movie followed by discussions

- Classroom Lectures

- Video-making

- Synchronous assignment on understanding diverse foodways

- Research project on ‘Navratri- the significance of food practices’

Students participated in all sessions with great enthusiasm. The use of innovative online platforms such as Slack facilitated intercultural communication and helped in breaking barriers of time and space. The Showcase session conducted on 14th December 2020 gave us a platform to share our experience of collaborative learning with the international community of students, teachers and scholars. It was indeed a very motivating experience.

Name of the Course: MILE: Whose Thali is this: Study of Food Cultures

Course Duration: 1st October - 8th November 2020

Number of Credits: 02

Department: Sociology

Collaborating College and Department: LaGuardia Community College, New York

Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) Faculty and Student Showcase featuring MILE: St Mira’s College for Girls

La Guardia Community College, City University of New York (CUNY) developed a programme called Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) to provide their students a global experience to expand their horizons. Through COIL, students across the world collaborate virtually via ice breakers, critical thinking, shared course material, classroom experiences, assignments and interactions. St Mira’s partnered with LaGuardia for the first time in 2019 studying the partition of India and other borders and partitions in the world. The exchange was so rewarding that La Guardia Community College encouraged and guided St Mira’s to start its own programme MILE: Mira International Learning Exchange: A centre for virtual collaboration. The two colleges shared 2 courses in the Fall Semester 2020 and hope to share another 3 in the Spring Semester 2021.

The culmination of all the collaborations is celebrated at the grand showcase which happens at the end of each semester at La Guardia Community College. This semester LaGuardia had 12 collaborations of which 2 were from St Mira’s. The topics varied from quality education, the pandemic predicament to addressing stereotypes around gender, race and religion. Faculty members and students from each of the countries shared their experiences, the methodology followed, the challenges and the rewards. Participants from Japan, America, Mexico. Egypt, France and Montenegro engaged in a truly warm and welcoming way encouraging each other with comments in the chat box and virtual clapping.

Veena Kenchi from St Mira’s collaborated with Maria Savva (PhD) (La Guardia). The students studied a course on “Issues of Identity in India & US: Comparing Caste and Race”. For Veena, “My aim was to make my students realise that diversity is global... People with diverse identities exist and we need to be more accommodative and tolerant about this. Diversity is the spice of our culture. This was my small initiative to make my students take note of this. The virtual exchange program has been a wonderful boon for understanding and enriching our experience about issues of identity in the world community. COIL/MILE has been a wonderful learning experience for me as a teacher. Planning, organising and engaging students internationally in a virtual space truly helped in enhancing student learning.” Padmavathi Ramakrishnan, TYBA (Economics Spl.) who took this course said, “COIL/MILE learning was a very useful programme. It was fun and knowledgeable. Having a healthy discussion on our cultural background and various other factors about each other’s country and expressing our viewpoints have helped me understand not only their culture but also ours in a better way. I was very happy to know that no matter where we belong, the youth of this generation want to live in an egalitarian society and truly believe in unity and fairness for all. I would want to take part in more such programs.”

Vaishali Diwakar (PhD) and Vaishali Joshi (PhD) collaborated with Alice Baldwin-Jones (PhD) (La Guardia) to share a course project “Food Culture and Identity Politics in India and US”. Vaishali Joshi is delighted as it was a “Wonderful experience of collaborative learning!! Our course on 'Food, Culture and Identity Politics' under COIL/MILE was a very enriching experience. Through this intercultural exchange, we understood the significance of food as a part of social identity and social distinction and also food as a unifying bond in diverse cultures. The Showcase program provided a platform to interact with faculty and students from all over the world. Collaborative exchange is indeed a very promising way of learning.” Gauri Raje, an SYBA Sociology special student who was part of this collaboration says, “We are indeed what we eat. The course gave us a global perspective to look at food beyond the basic necessity.”

To conclude Olga Aksakalova (PhD), LaGuardia COIL Coordinator, feels, “Students who participate in COIL exchanges learn to challenge stereotypical portrayals of culture as they engage in authentic interactions with their international peers. Through constructive dialogue and collaborative projects, they are often in the position to question such binaries as self/other, and to turn borders into bridges.”

The United Nations put down 17 guidelines for sustainable development of which the 4th guideline is quality education for all. St Mira’s and LaGuardia along with all their partners are so proud to have in their own small way invested in the future.

Brainstorming between LaGuardia Community College and St Mira’s College: In search of future collaborations, 25 th June and 4 th July 2020

Webinar: “An Introduction to COIL: Collaborative Online International Learning” For St. Mira’s College Faculty interested in participating in COIL, 6 th July 2020:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ljmquk-XIvL5pkggps2a0176zRmv3YdU/view

End July: Workshop on match-making teachers across the world

September and October: Workshops by Dr Olga Aksakalova

Hands-on training by MILE (St Mira’s college) and COIL (LaGuardia Community College) faculty respectively

December: MILE Webinar- Participating Teachers and Students to present their various Virtual collaborations, the hurdles and achievements