The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is a tourist attraction that has become, as Sandhya Fuchs ’12 puts it, “like a symbol for multicultural London.”
The Neasden Temple, as it is known, includes a traditional Hindu temple, with gleaming domes, pillars, and pinnacles. Fuchs noticed that the complex, which also includes a top-ranked independent school, was often in media discussions of Hinduism, and it had come to stand for the Hindu community in London or even Britain. “What I decided ... is that [temple officials] are very good at taking discourses and values that are very much accepted in the British context,” Fuchs said—monotheism, charitable giving, even school spirit, for example—“and integrating them into the way they present their religion.”
The anthropology major from Germany did research at the Mandir last summer as part of her honors thesis—and it was made possible by the Sandy Maisel Goldfarb Center Student Research and Internship Fund. Fuchs is one of 14 recipients of grants from the fund, established in honor of William R. Kenan Professor of Government Sandy Maisel. The fund offers grants to students for independent study that they would otherwise be unable to afford.
The fund was established by five of Maisel’s former students, four of whom were staffers on his unsuccessful run for Congress in 1978. The four—Dan Hoefle ’78, Susan Kenyon ’78, Doug Kaplan ’78, and Jeff Shribman ’78—and classmate and friend Alan Donnenfeld ’78, approached Maisel’s wife, Grossman Professor of Economics Patrice Franko, about doing something to honor the longtime friendship. The Maisel Fund was born, inspired by the Goldfarb Challenge, established by William H. Goldfarb ’68, P’00.
“It was really humbling to be part of the process and see these young kids coming up and doing wonderful things,” said Hoefle, a Portsmouth, N.H., attorney. “It just makes us all feel very good about our experience at Colby and the impact Sandy had on our lives.”