The action of “giving,” according to Oxford Dictionary, is defined as: “freely transfer the possession of (something) to (someone).”
For Doctor Achyuta Samanta, founder of Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) and the Kalinga institute of Social Sciences (KISS), “giving” means much more.
Hosted in the Atwood Ballroom, Samanta, the guest speaker, talked about his life and the feats he accomplished by simply giving. Though he was born and raised in one of the most impoverished destinations on earth, Samanta used his philosophy of giving to change the world around him, and in turn, changed thousands of lives after.
Samanta founded both KIIT and KISS with only $100 in 1992. From then on, momentum has driven both institutions to be recognized world wide for their groundbreaking achievements in health education and post-graduate education.
Samanta grew up in a remote village called Kalarabank, located in Odisha, India. Kalarabank was home to “the poorest of the poor,” which allowed minimal opportunities for those children to succeed, he said.
In 2011, the census asserted that the population of Odisha was around 41 million, with an approximation of about 38 percent of the population living as under privileged citizens due to their socioeconomic status. This demographic also includes aboriginal citizens.
As Samanta grew up, he had six siblings to look after and a widowed mother that did not obtain anything from her husband’s death. At the age of 4, Samanta assumed the role of caregiver for his seven family members, constantly giving and attempting to sustain his family, and other members in his community with no expectation of a favor returned.
This philosophy that Samanta has lived by his entire life has allowed him to soar from his previous impoverished life, to now, helping thousands of children earn an education. Both the KIIT and KISS are home to over 45,000 students, who vary in age, grade and background from kindergarten all the way to post graduate school.
In St. Cloud, some parents would wonder how much this would all cost, however Samanta’s philosophy is not a business one, it is a giving one.
Students that attend either the KIIT or the KISS pay nothing for room and board, food or education. All of the programs, schools and on campus activities are all free of charge to the students.
Samanta believes that by giving underprivileged children the proper education, we can turn tax consumers into taxpayers.
Samanta’s efforts to reach out even further to the aboriginal population in his community is an even greater accomplishment, with currently 800 underprivileged tribal children enrolled and pursuing careers that require higher education, turning these children into capable taxpayers instead of, what Samanta calls, tax consumers.
Samanta’s story led to the interest of SCSU faculty and many members in the St. Cloud community, including SCSU President Earl H. Potter III and St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis.
“It’s a reassuring message of giving, the art of giving is one of the things I love about this community, people are willing to give,” Mayor Kleis said. “One person can make a difference, his story is remarkable, how somebody grew up with the story that he has and to affect millions of lives with just his willingness to give, and that is what we try to instill and engage people in our community.”
Samanta’s visit to the US and to SCSU was influential to both parties involved. SCSU officials looked heavily at the way Samanta has helped aboriginal children to blossom into productive members of society, and hope to take from this learning experience, a new light to shine with St. Clouds very own native demographic. Further, Samanta believes that his philosophy can be implemented throughout the nation.
“You see, also in the United States there are some poor people, there are also people that are starving, so if we culture this quality [the Art of giving], which I have been doing for the last 24 years, then this category of people will live particularly long,” Samanta said. “Those that are in good position, they should take care of all those people that are in distress.”
It is clear that “giving” is more than a word defined to Samanta, it is more than an idea or an action. For Samanta, giving is truly, a way of life.