Later that morning, we make our way to the American Embassy School, one of Delhi’s most exclusive. Set on fourteen acres immediately across from the American Embassy itself, the school serves the sons and daughters of diplomats and other ex-patriates, both from the United States and around the world. Our guide there is Oren Ridenour, an American whose career as a counselor mirror that of a diplomat: postings in American schools in Cairo, Bolivia, Geneva, and what seems a dozen other locations around the world. AES graduates around 75 students per year. Three students have applied for admission for fall 2010, and we meet with them, along with some interested juniors.
Clearly what resonates most with this group is the combination of Brandeis’s small size, in addition to students’ access to top-level research. Two students are particularly interested in theater (AES has a very active program), and we give them a rundown of the extensive opportunities both within the theater department and in student-run organizations.
It’s clear from the conversation that Brandeis has a lot of the features that the bright cosmopolitan student body at AES is looking for in an American education. But it’s also clear that it’s tough sledding for Brandeis to command attention with so many parents fixed on Ivy League names. It would appear that what we need is some momentum – good experiences at Brandeis for some pioneering students, so that the word filters back to their peers, other parents, and the counselors. This appears to be happening at other Indian high schools, and we can hope that we’ve broken the ice at AES as well.