The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Together, towards a brave new world
- Jesuit alumni/ae congress concludes

The Summit of Joy, the Sixth World Congress of Jesuit Alumni/ae, concluded on Friday. The four-day meet at St Xavier’s College brought together ex-students of Jesuit academic institutions from around the globe, focussing on the social development projects undertaken by their various associations.

The newly-selected executive body for the World Union of Jesuit Alumni/ae was announced during the closing plenary. The executive, to coordinate the activities of the transnational organisation for the next six years, is to be headed by Bernard Thomson of the United Kingdom. Of the two Indian councillors chosen, one was Krishna Kumar Kanoi from Calcutta.

The summit — the next edition of which will be held at Cameroon — was jointly organised by the city’s three Jesuit organisations, St Xavier’s School, St Lawrence School and St Xavier’s College.

The 600-plus delegates were divided into workgroups on the basis of geographical origin and language, to deliberate on issues of education, environment, women’s empowerment and corporate social commitment. The suggestions made by the India group in the area of education include increased sponsorship of vernacular schools, traffic rule awareness in the rural areas, programmes to reduce the school dropout rate, awareness programmes on AIDS and cruelty to animals and dialogue between groups from different religious groups to promote harmony.

Environmental suggestions included water-table management and schemes to reduce the use of plastic. For the empowerment of women, training in nursing and sensitisation campaigns on dowry were recommended. Finally, an attempt to increase corporate contributions to the social sector was proposed. Their involvement was also solicited to encourage the development of young entrepreneurs.

The national and international delegates visited the village of Paikhala, where the St Xavier’s alumni association funds a project implemented by students. They have built a school and road in the village where they have been working for the past three years.

For many of the participants, the India experience has been the best part. “The Congress has really met all international standards,” says Michel De Knoop, a Jesuit alumnus from Belgium. But in terms of results, the verdict is still out. “Though the meet was a success in terms of organisation and hospitality, we will not know if it was a real success till the conference is over and everyone has returned to their own countries. If the output from this meet is implemented, the Congress would have been a success,” says Father Mathew, principal, St Xavier’s College.


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