A sophisticated network greets new Indian graduate students

John Gravois in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Each fall thousands of graduate students from foreign countries make the pilgrimage to American research universities. For past generations, that pilgrimage has often been a prelude to lives and careers here. But for Mr. Mahale, as for more and more Indian students, the United States isn’t so much the land of opportunity (there is plenty of that in Mumbai), as it is the land of leverage, of certain well-defined comparative advantages. Graduate education is still one of them.

Going to America was only a rite of passage into the Indian technical elite. But what Mr. Mahale may not have fully realized that night was that it was not a rite of passage he was making alone. The same technologies of travel and communication that have made it possible for Western corporations to set up shop abroad have allowed international-student associations to establish more and more sophisticated campus niches in the United States.

On the other end of Mr. Mahale’s flight, another group of Indians was ready to receive him — a close-knit, well-organized network of fellow graduate students who had staked their claim in North Carolina so well, it sometimes felt like they had never left India.

More here.