June 24, 2004: Headlines: COS - Lesotho: COS - India: University Education: Rocky Fork Enterprise: Lesotho RPCV William Lyons teaches in India

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Lesotho: Peace Corps Lesotho : The Peace Corps in Lesotho: June 24, 2004: Headlines: COS - Lesotho: COS - India: University Education: Rocky Fork Enterprise: Lesotho RPCV William Lyons teaches in India

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-53-195.balt.east.verizon.net - on Monday, June 28, 2004 - 10:34 am: Edit Post

Lesotho RPCV William Lyons teaches in India

Lesotho RPCV William Lyons teaches in India

Lesotho RPCV William Lyons teaches in India

Former Gahanna resident teaching at Indian college

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Enterprise Staff Writer

Caption: Former Gahanna resident and teacher William Lyons is head of math department at The Mahindra United World College in India.

William Lyons knew something about his future was not to be typical.

Lyons was born in Columbus and grew up in Gahanna. He graduated from Gahanna High School and started college at the Ohio State University, much like many of his friends.

But while attending the Ohio State University, he started wondering about other countries.

After graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering, he said he felt he was not ready to go out and get a job here and start working.

"I always was looking for new experiences. Some people are just looking for security," he said.

Instead of jumping into the work force, Lyons joined the United States Peace Corps and was sent to Africa.

Since then, Lyons has earned his teaching degree in mathematics and science and has traveled the world, working with many different people, learning many different customs and traditions.

He has tasted tongba, a millet beer made in northern India, eaten a meal cooked over a fire with a tribe in Africa, made bread without an oven and tasted wild vegetation while hiking around Africa.

"Just because you're born in America doesn't mean you have to stay there. I wanted to do something of some value and to me it was a challenge," Lyons said. "I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I like that kind of adventure. I don't like things to be predictable."

Years later, Lyons has continued his world travels and currently is teaching math and is chair of the math department at Mahindra United World College International outside of Pune, India.

David Wilkinson, who worked with Lyons in Lesotho in Africa, is the head master of the Mahindra United World College International. He recruited Lyons to come to India because he needed someone competent and he knew Lyons was willing to travel.

"He's a fantastic teacher and head of the (math) department. He's a tremendous asset to this school and his hometown should be proud of him," Wilkinson said.

Mahindra is one of 11 such colleges in the world that teach the international baccalaureate curriculum. It has 200 students from 65 different countries, including Australia, Bermuda, China, Argentina, Denmark, Nepal, Finland, Portugal, Spain, the United States, Germany, Norway, Hungary, Afghanistan, Korea, Canada, France and Jamaica.

Wilkinson said the college's students come from different parts of the world with expectations and their own values. But intermingling with students from other countries has an effect on them, more so than what they could learn from a regular high school in their own country.

"They go away changed. It has a real impact," he said.

"They learn to deal with all different sorts of people and they learn how to put their own culture in with someone else's. It becomes a deeper part of you ... They can do book work anywhere. But it's the rest of it that they learn that makes a difference."

It makes students more culturally aware because of the values they have shared with others, Wilkinson continued.

Situated about a 40-minute Jeep ride from the nearest city, in a remote area, Mahindra College provides an interesting education for its students and interesting challenges for its teachers.

Wilkinson said the teachers do not earn a lot of money by Western standards. But he said they, like the students, come away with something that they cannot get back home.

"It's worthwhile. They get something else out of it that you can't get out of your own country," he said.

Lyons took a favorite chair, some posters and pictures, a collection of music, books and few other personal items when he traveled to India.

He said it has not been a problem keeping busy. He regularly rides a bicycle outside the campus, on thin roads winding through hills. And he has brought another of his own passions -- his love of jazz -- to the students through a jazz club he started on campus. He also joined a jazz club in Pune and makes the trek monthly to share his music collection with the natives.

He brews his own beer at the school, despite difficulties in getting some ingredients, and he shares his beer with the other teachers on campus.

He does not have a television in his home at the college. Conveniences such as going to a movie or heading out for dinner must be arranged ahead of time because the college itself does not have its own vehicles for people to drive.

He faces the same regular power outages and lack of hot water that all of the country deals with, though the college is self-sufficient. Its own generator kicks in when the power goes off, for example.

Lyons eats in the cafeteria with students and cooks a little himself, also occasionally going out to eat with other teachers.

From his travels, Lyons said he has learned a lot about other people and a lot about himself.

"There's a lot of warmth in Africa ... The country is beautiful and I love they way they live their lives," Lyons said.

In India, he has found an ordered chaos that has become a relaxing place for him to live. It is a "vast, yet complicated place and there's a lot here to discover," Lyons said.

Lyons recently married Richa Jhaldiyal, a woman he met in India, and the two are home visiting.

Lyons was married before to a woman from Africa. He brought her back to Gahanna with him and the two worked locally for several years, Lyons teaching at Gahanna High School and eventually at Columbus State. She died following complications in a car accident.

Lyons retains a house in Gahanna, which a sister-in-law cares for while he is gone.

He and his new wife plan to return to India within a month. Lyons said he plans to continue teaching for a while but is open to something else in the future.

His mind remains open to any opportunities that might present themselves.

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Story Source: Rocky Fork Enterprise

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Lesotho; COS - India; University Education



By David V Dye (0024-profile-04.rts.wustl.edu - on Tuesday, October 12, 2004 - 10:48 pm: Edit Post

As a student of said college, I find some serious discrepencies in this article. I do not have to time to rectify them all, but please do verify your facts and try to take a less condescending tone when speaking of other peoples.

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