Mount Holyoke Alumnae Symposium in Asia

Alumnae gather in India

The third Mount Holyoke Alumnae Symposium in Asia drew 45 attendees to the Taj Jai Mahal Palace Hotel in Jaipur, India, to explore the theme India at Crossroads: Past, Present and Future. Alumnae from around the world, including from Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and India, were joined by students, invited guests and College leaders for a weekend of panels and discussions, yoga, shared meals, networking and even a bonfire chat with Mount Holyoke President Sonya Stephens, Alumnae Association President Maria Mossaides ’73 and Chair of the Board of Trustees Barbara Baumann ’77. Organized by Vijaya Pastala ’89, Shoba Narayan ’88, Gayatri Rangachari Shah ’94 and Tina Nagpaul ’93 and staff at the Alumnae Association and the College, the event not only brought the Mount Holyoke community together but showcased India’s evolution into the world’s largest democracy and one of the fastest growing economies. An opening address was presented by Chetna Gala Sinha, an activist, farmer and banker who in 1996 founded the Mann Deshi Foundation in Mhaswad, a drought- stricken area in western India, with the aim of economically and socially empowering rural women.

Aruna Roy delivered Saturday’s keynote address. Roy is an activist who has worked to access constitutional rights for the poor. She is a former member of the National Advisory Council and currently serves as president of the National Federation of Indian Women.

“The symposium offered insights into the Indian subcontinent’s arts, culture and people,” said attendee Cheryl Greene ’88. “Steaming cups of chai tea kept us all revved up for endless conversations late into the night, and delicious Rajasthani delicacies were served at every meal. And the organizing committee provided so many fresh perspectives that left us excited for more opportunities to work together with our alumnae colleagues in India, Asia and all around the world.”