Society

WCC scores a centum

Doveton House  

Bring in the pipes, play on the music, for it’s time for fanfare and fireworks. The first private women’s college in Chennai is turning 100, come Tuesday. The Women’s Christian College, founded 10 decades ago to this day by missionary societies from the U.S., Canada and the U.K., began on a small scale with less than 50 students on its rolls. Today, it has 3,500 young women studying in its sprawling verdant campus located in the heart of the city.

The Principal, Dr. Ridling Margaret Waller, seems to have pulled out all the stops for the centennial celebrations, if one were to go by the multifarious activities involving the present batch of students and alumnae from all over the world. Waller had recorded even as far back as 2008 more than 105 varieties of trees on campus and added 25 new species. Last July, as the college entered its 100th year, the Vice-Chancellor of Madras University, R. Thandavan, planted the first of the 100 saplings planned for the celebrations. Today, the banyan is thriving, and the VC will be back on Tuesday next to plant the 100th sapling. The remaining 98 were planted in the last 12 months by the different departments of the college, 22 in all, — three trees for each year of study and five for those departments which offer a PG course.

“The Green initiative is to showcase the rich biodiversity of the campus and conserve its floral heritage,” said Waller. In a unique countdown, a 100-hour prayer chain for the college commenced on June 2 and will culminate just before the Midnight Thanksgiving Service on July 6. Rev. Canon James Callaway of the Colleges and Universities of the Anglican Communion, New York, will lead the service and the 100-voice centenary choir led by Jayanthi Prabhakar will sing Rutter and do the Clare benediction.

During the celebrations on July 7, the student choir, under the baton of conductor Tony Davids, will render the Centenary anthem composed by noted musician Jerry Amaldev.

The first Indian woman to head a business school in the U.S., Dr. Srilata Zaheer, is one among the few illustrious alumnae to be honoured during the occasion. To unite alumnae across the world, Waller, the Vice-Principal and others travelled to different continents and got their signatures recorded on centenary streamers that will be unfurled on Tuesday.

A time capsule made of glass with scrolls inside with recorded names, events and milestones, will be stored in a 2.5-feet concrete cavity on a platform 106 degrees North by South from the Principal’s room, says Sarita Deepak, the college PR executive.

Referring to the collaboration with premier institutions across the globe, the Principal said, “The 10th decade of our college opened up the floodgates beginning with Hanze University of Netherlands 10 years ago. The latest tie-up is with the Middlesex University, U.K., close on the heels of Concordia varsity, New York.

Dr. Ranjini Christopher, head, department of languages, is a second-generation faculty in the college as her mother Suganthi Packianathan had taught Tamil, while she teaches French, and both are old students as well. Ranjini says the first event that ushered in the centenary was held four years ago, The Festival of Choirs, in December 2011 — the carol concert has become an annual feature since then.

Beginning with July, every 6th, 7th, and 8th of the month of the centenary year will be marked by international conferences, a coffee-table book, a daily devotional and a sound and light programme that will commence in August with Shobana Mala Martin, an alumna, presenting the history and milestones of the college. “Little did I imagine that I could give back to my alma mater for its centenary. It will be a 40-minute spellbinder with alumni and present students enacting it,” she says.

Amrita Fredrick, artistic director, The Kuku Company, is directing the centenary play in September. The 2008 batch Psychology student says, “wanting to do something that’s a celebration of drama, dance and music, we have picked an absurd comedy with a heart-warming script and a strong female protagonist, obviously!”

Senior Professor of English, Dr. Lilian Jasper, says “the centenary is a celebration of the dream, sacrifices, vision and the indefatigable spirit of our pioneers coming to fruition. It’s also a celebration of various achievements, milestones and of the camaraderie shared by the college community. This is best exemplified through the 100-voice centenary choir where past and current students, teaching and non-teaching staff, sing together in harmony”.

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 1:29:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/society/womens-christian-college-scores-a-centum/article7386753.ece

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