An International Parent's Journey

By Mitul Seth P’16, P’18

In the Fall of 2012, when Sharan, my older son, left our home in New Delhi to join CMC, my yoga teacher said to me, "The doors of your world will now open through the eyes of your children." I had no idea what she meant by that, but gradually I came to appreciate the truth of that statement.

A few weeks into Sharan's first semester at college, I received a newsletter that caught my attention. It was an email informing parents that a group of CMC students and two professors would be visiting India during the winter break. This visit was for a half credit Religious Studies course on “Contemporary Religious Leadership in India.” Having been a volunteer with an Indian spiritual organization, I spontaneously wrote to the professor leading the group, asking her if they would like to meet a Hindu religious teacher during their visit. I offered to organize a talk on the subject by Swami Nikhilananda, Head of Chinmaya Mission, Delhi, followed by an interactive Q & A session. Almost immediately, I received a reply from her saying the group would be absolutely delighted to meet with a Swami! Coincidentally, the group was staying at a hotel in our neighborhood and it seemed like a good idea to host them for a meal at home on another day. The only date that worked was 1st January, so my husband and I got all set to throw a New Year’s Day party!

The winter holidays arrived. Sharan returned home and was rather surprised to learn of the evenings planned with an unknown group of students and professors, from a college where he had barely spent a few months! The session with the Swami turned out to be an enlightening and engaging one, and the professor described it as the most memorable event of the trip to India for the students! The Indian home-cooked meal at the New Year’s Day party was a delightful experience for the visitors and the fairy lights I put out in the garden on the 1st of January, 2013, still light up our home, and remind us of the first CMC event we hosted. A spontaneous act of sending out an email to a professor set the ball rolling for my bond with CMC and for many more such wonderful evenings at our home in the years to come.

Members of the CMC community would regularly visit Delhi and, as we opened our home and hearts to them, and also to students and their parents, our living room was filled with brilliant minds and engaging conversations, adding a whole new dimension to my life. Thus began a beautiful relationship with the CMC family that transcended our physical borders and backgrounds. From discussions on the future of Liberal Arts Education in India, to Applied Computer Science courses at CMC, and a host of other subjects, my intellect was stimulated like never before. So many new perspectives were shared on a whole range of topics. Two years later, when Shivaan, my younger son, also joined CMC, the connection only became deeper. CMC had found a place in our home and become an integral part of our daily lives. Hosting a CMC event now became a treasured family ritual.

Being a member of the Parent Network Board and the International Parent Board Engagement Coordinator gave me insights into the hard work that goes into making CMC one of the happiest colleges in America. The dedication and dynamism with which the working staff, faculty members, and parents come together in a selfless spirit, is what makes CMC a unique institution amongst the hundreds of colleges in the USA.

The CMC community is a caring, committed and genuinely concerned community that welcomes each and every one into its fold. From the President of the College, to the Deans and Professors, to the local volunteers of the town of Claremont, reaching out with warmth is ingrained in their DNA and that's what makes these precious years for every CMC student and parent so meaningful and enriching. It's been a rewarding journey watching Sharan and Shivaan go into college as anxious freshmen, and shaping up to being young men capable of holding their own in any conversation. As they traverse the journey of life, there is immense gratitude to CMC for not only being the most invaluable stepping stone of their adult lives but also for being one of the most memorable chapters of our family life!