by Michelle Jeanne C. Caracut, OPI
Dr. Alma G. Maranda, faculty member of the Department of Psychology of the College of Arts and Social Sciences, recently returned from her one-month engagement as Adjunct Professor at the Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) University, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India.
Maranda was considered by the Institute, in response to the invitation from the Centre for Disaster Mitigation and Management (CDMM) of VIT, for a professor-level faculty who can teach the Disaster Psychology subject, as well as conduct research, extension, and other academic activities from June 2 to July 2, 2016, on official time.
VIT Chancellor, Dr. G. Viswanathan, spoke to Maranda and expressed that he would like the students to leave VIT more as human beings and not too technical. Maranda, in return, said that “engineering can really help a lot especially in disasters but it would also help that you add (teach) human qualities. That would spell the difference, particularly in cases of mental health support, psycho-social support in times of disaster.”
Maranda taught Disaster Psychology to 60 engineering students. Lessons include how one can strengthen self-esteem; how to take good care of oneself to be able to best take care of others; establishing self-worth; how to provide psycho-social support when one volunteers to help survivors; psychological preparations to do in response to disaster and in the aftermath; and how to foster resiliency, hope, and recovery. She added that the students were “very disciplined, very focused, more serious and very participative in the discussions,” hence, her teaching experience in India was enjoyable.
When asked what she learned from her professional engagement at VIT, Maranda said she was able to look at MSU-IIT’s strengths and weaknesses.
“This faculty exchange program would actually provide the faculty with the opportunity to teach or conduct research and would benefit from exposure to a culturally-varied and diverse faculty make-up. This would also be an opportunity that would help to exchange ideas and observe a variety of learning styles. Indeed, the faculty exchange program really provides a unique opportunity for academic interaction, collaborative research, linkages, and networking between MSU-IIT and VIT,” she remarked.
In a letter sent by Dr. G.P. Ganapathy, the director of CDMM of VIT, Maranda was praised for her exemplary performance as adjunct professor. She had an outstanding evaluation rating for her teaching efficiency. The Academic Staff Office also recognized her invaluable contribution for her knowledge and expertise as Speaker on the topic “Creating a Powerful Learning Environment” to the newly-recruited faculty of VIT, VELLORE.
While at VIT, Maranda was able to participate in a round table discussion on possible linkage with the Counseling Division of VIT and the Psychology Department of MSU-IIT.
Maranda’s engagement as Adjunct Professor in VIT is a realization of one of the agreements stipulated in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Institute and VIT.