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US government launches 'Studying in the US: An Indian Perspective'
Matthew Schneeberger
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December 10, 2007

In the increasingly competitive realm of higher education, governments around the globe are using multimedia in new ways in hopes of attracting even more Indian students to their universities.

On Friday, December 8, at the American Centre in Mumbai, US Consul General Michael Owen [Images] launched the US Electronic Education Fair for India. It is the largest multimedia campaign meant to promote US education in India ever, engineered by the US government.

As part of the launch, the event featured the premiere screening of a two-part documentary titled "Studying in the US: An Indian Perspective." The documentary will air on CNBC TV 18 throughout the month of December.

The video highlights various aspects of student life in America: finances, different degree programmes, class workload, student-professor interactions, on-campus work, social life and post-graduation internships.

Members of the media and a select group of Mumbai college students were present at the launch to view the video, and Consul General Owen inaugurated the event with a short speech.

"Over 84,000 Indian students studied in the US last year, a 10-per cent increase from the 76,000 who studied in 2006. Indian students, by a large number, are the largest group of foreign students in America. China has 64,000. To those of you considering studying abroad, I believe you can make no better choice than to study in the United States," he said.

The movie itself is exciting and well-made. Unlike the vast majority of like-minded films, it grips you from the start and keeps you interested.

Before the film, the US consulate presented a 10-minute video montage meant to show the vast differences and the richness of landscapes and faces across America. Sun-baked farmers work the soil in the Midwest, a fish market bustles in Seattle, an African-American family poses for the camera in the Deep South and smiling children in the suburbs play little-league baseball under the summer sun. The high quality of production and cinematic detailing suggests Hollywood input.

Then, the actual documentary begins: 17 universities, colleges and trade schools are introduced one-by-one, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Stanford University and Tulane University. An Indian student serves as the face of each school, giving his or her opinions and acting as a guide.

The use of the Indian students is effective, as it removes all the figures, administrators and other distracting elements. You truly feel as if you've stepped on campus and are joining them on the morning walk to class. Additionally, the video features interviews with several Indian students who have already graduated from school and returned home. They discuss how the mixture of in-class work, research work and socialising has prepared them to do business in the increasingly globalised world of the 21st century.

Also, the documentary manages to showcase schools from across the entire breadth of available options, from a small fine-arts school (Rhode Island School of Design) to a large, research-based university (University of California at Davis). This gives a taste of the huge scope of accredited educational institutes in America, of which there are more than 4,000.

Joy, who plans to study in the US next year, is a 21-year-old student at the University of Mumbai. He attended the event with two of his classmates, Sarang and Hiral.

Afterwards, Joy said, "I really liked hearing the Indian students' perspective. I found it easy to connect with them, and I could imagine what it would be like on campus."

Sarang added, "I appreciated the inclusion of Indian voices. It was well-planned and well-executed. (It was) definitely the best education video I've seen yet."

Soniya Deshmukh, an associate with USEFI, was there to speak with aspiring students. A Mumbaikar herself, Soniya studied at Lewis and Clark college in Oregon, United States. She graduated in May 2007 and now works for USEFI in hopes of attracting more Indian students to explore the possibilities of a US education.

"US higher education made a huge impact on my life. I enjoyed the diversity, flexibility and quality of the education. I believe that given the opportunity, every student should try his or her hand at it. And if you need any information, USEFI is always there as an authentic resource," she said.

The US Electronic Education Fair for India also features a brand new web site:

"The web site has just launched, and doesn't contain all the information as of yet," said Christine Dal Bello of the US consulate. "In the coming few weeks, the documentary will be uploaded on the page for viewing, and other resources will be available as well."

"Studying in the US: An Indian Perspective" can be seen at the following times on CNBC TV 18:

Episode 1:

Saturday, December 22 -- 7:00 pm (repeat telecast)

Episode 2:

Saturday, December 15 -- 7:00 pm
Sunday, December 23 -- 7:00 pm (repeat telecast)

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