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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Students supplement classroom learning with field experience

source:Sikkim Now

The Winter Sojourn Programme of Sikkim University was introduced in 2010-11 under the initiative of the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Mahendra P. Lama. One of the major objectives in introducing this programme was to ensure that classroom teaching is supplemented by field experience of the students. At the same time, it was also envisaged as a means of obtaining data relating to the problem under consideration with a view to devising appropriate solutions.
The Winter Sojourn Programme of Sikkim University is organised in such a way as to cover a variety of topics in diverse areas. This year the programme includes topics like Cancer, Tuberculosis, Migrant Labourers, Tibetan Settlements, Fashion, Amliso Broom, Past Time Games, Hydroelectric Projects, Earthquake, Musical Instruments, Human Trafficking, Forests, Medicinal Plants, Oranges, Women Vendors, Monuments and Cultural Heritage, Telephone, etc.
Serialised below are field reports from some the Winter Sojourn teams:

Study on School Dropouts
The team on ‘School Dropouts’ includes three faculty members – Dr Ruma Kundu from the Department of Economic Studies and Planning, who is also the team leader; Dr Shailendra Mishra from the Department of Ethno-Botany & Social Medicine Studies; and Mr Indraneel Mandal from the Department of Management and Commerce. It also has fifteen students from various departments of the university.
As a part of its research methodology the team had planned to carry out surveys in two areas, viz., - West Sikkim and Gangtok during the course of the allotted ten days. Accordingly it first visited Sombarey in West Sikkim on the 16th of January, 2012 to conduct surveys in Sombarey and adjoining villages like Churchgaon, Daramdin, Lungchok, Ambatte, etc. Before starting work members of the team visited the panchayat pradhan and police officials who welcomed this initiative of the university. During the survey the team members were spontaneously received by various households in these villages. After a successful five days in West Sikkim the team returned to Gangtok on the 20th for the second phase of the survey. While there was a noticeable change in the attitude of the urban respondents, the team has nevertheless enjoyed a successful run during the survey, which wrapped up on the 25th. Apart from covering households in different parts of the city and its suburbs the team members also visited institutions like different livelihood schools, the Institute of Tibetology and monasteries, besides undertaking studies of ‘special’ groups like the taxi drivers and vendors.
It has been an enjoyable and fruitful experience for all members of the team, including both students and faculty members, who have learnt a lot during these past ten days.
[from Dr. RUMA KUNDU, Assistant Professor, Department of Economic Studies and Planning, Sikkim University]

After last year’s grand success of the Winter Sojourn Programme, this year too, Sikkim University is conducting field research on various themes. The team working on the theme ‘Monuments & Cultural Heritage’ is doing an extensive research work on four endangered heritage sites: Sidrapong Hydel Power Project at Darjeeling, MacFarlen Church at Kalimpong, Damsong Gari at Pedong and Dalim Fort at Gorubathan. The team is headed by four faculty members: Dr. Sanjay Singh (Dept. of Music), the team coordinator, Mr Samar Sinha (Dept. of Asian Languages – Nepali), Mr Arnab Datta (Dept. of Asian Languages – Chinese), Ms Chunnu Khawas (Computer Science), and accompanied by 21 students from various disciplines.
The team started with their work at Sidrapong Hydel Power Project, Darjeeling on 21 January, 2012 and did an extensive study on this heritage power project, Asia’s first hydel power project, which is now defunct. The team collected valuable information from the local residents like Mr Jivan Bhandari, Mr Sanu Bhai and Mr Kamal Bhandari. The prime objective was to promote the heritage and create awareness among people and find ways for its preservation and restoration.
The second site was MacFarlen Church at Kalimpong, East India’s very first church. This antique monument is in a very dilapidated state after the 18/9 earthquake last year. The church was established by Scottish missionaries in 1891. The team is now collecting data from reliable sources like senior pastors, evangelists and reverends. They are also receiving perceptions of the local residents about the restoration of the church. Considering its antiquity and the fact that it was instrumental in the socio-economic development of the hilly communities, this church definitely deserves to get attention at national and international level.
The team would be heading for Damsong Gari, Pedong on 27 Jan.
Endangered heritage places like this are not only important for one’s culture but in fact invaluable. They might be scattered around and neglected, just like a wild flowering plant by the roadside; but nonetheless worth to be given a close look for a while. Sikkim University is surely on this track. The research work will definitely reveal many such hidden treasures. They must be preserved because they are integral to our culture.
[from Arnab Datta, Assistant Professor, Department of Asian Languages (Chinese), School of Languages & Linguists, Sikkim University]

Fifteen students from Sikkim University along with three faculty members and two Junior Executives will commence on 27 January 2012 on the winter sojourn programme on the theme ‘Cancer in Sikkim’ to evaluate different risk factors of common cancer prevalent in urban and rural population in east Sikkim (India). The theme would be based on 10 days field study by interacting cancer patients and their family along with the interactions in hospital and PHCs.
The study would be an effort to gain an insight into the prevalence and possible causes of cancer in Sikkim and to study the psychological implications of people affected with cancer. Along with this an effort would be made to explore the risk factors of cancer in Sikkim. Faculty and students would visit hospitals, pathology labs and all the source of registration to collect cancer causes and would visit their places, survey the cause and risk factors of cancer incidence.
This study is taken in Sikkim to provide a base study on cancer etiology and control and to overview the cancer problems in Sikkim. This field study is designed in such a manner which is extensively interdisciplinary, incorporating all major issues related to border for a close study through direct interaction with cancer patients. This field study can bring many important issues into mainstream academic and policy discussions which are yet to get attention from mainstream academics, policy establishments and media.
The team is led by Mr Gagan Chettri, the team coordinator is Dr. Deepti Singh while other members are Dr. Bimala Singh, Dr. Satyananda Panda and Mr Binu Dorjee.

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