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Blog: PhD supervision on Location: TUA visiting hospitable India and Nepal

2 November 2022

PhD supervision on Location: TUA visiting hospitable India and Nepal

Professor of Christian Education Prof. A. de Muynck has returned from his study tour to India and Nepal. Besides visiting diverse projects and institutes, he was also a keynote speaker at a conference and had the opportunity to have supervisory meetings with PhD students in their own contexts. This blog is about the latter.

Supervision meetings with PhD students preferably take place at TUA. Since the corona years, we have also become used to meetings via Teams or Zoom. This saves a lot of travelling time. However, sometimes it is worth investing travelling time to visit PhD students at the place where they are doing their research. This became evident to me during a trip to India and Nepal, from which I returned last week. One of our students, Ms Rosy Samuel, is doing research on the impact of Christian values in India. This is done in primary, secondary and vocational schools, which she set up with her husband several years ago. We were received there with extraordinary hospitality. During the tour through the classrooms it became clear to me how she is working on this. Students gave a demonstration of what they had learned and we were introduced to the team of teachers. It was impressive to see that the values they try to teach the children are part of the whole school culture. The respectful and attentive attitude was evident in everything, not only towards the students, but also towards the teammates. Besides learning about the work context, I found it insightful to learn about cultural traditions. In India, these are mainly Hindu customs. The sacred cow walk on the highway, temples are actively visited and gods are an integral part of perception. Conversations with first-generation Christians revealed something of the vast difference between belief in a personal God who gives peace and a relatively diffuse religiosity.

In Nepal, we had similar experiences. This country is also dominated by Hinduism, and Christianity is still young here. Three of our PhD students work in Kathmandu in an educational institution that grew out of the mission earlier established there. Because of the high quality of the curriculum, the staff are asked to deliver training courses across the country. We were invited to participate in a team retreat, allowing for casual PhD supervision during a hike. What wonderful hospitalitywe also met here! By spending several days with the students in the Himalayan region, participating in devotions, eating Dal-Bhat together and going off road on a 4-wheeldrive to another destination, you not only learn something about the context, but get a first-hand taste of what it is like to live in this country. Those experiences undoubtedly colour the conversations I will have with students online and hopefully again when they are at TUA during graduate week in June 2023.

Prof. Dr. A. de Muynck, Professor of Christian Education

For security reasons, the names of the institutes where the students work are not mentioned.

Prof. De Muynck (second from right) with PhD students on a rooftop terrace. The Himalayan mountains are visible in the background.

Prof. De Muynck (left) has a supervisory meeting with TUA PhD student Rosy.