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Andrew Hayenga


The International School of Indiana mourns the unexpected loss of Mr. Swadesh Singh Kalsi at the age of 77. He was one of the school's founding leaders and served as the institution's first Board of Directors President. 


Mr. Kalsi was born in Nairobi, Kenya, on April 10, 1943. He received his undergraduate degree in Economics and Political Science at the London School of Economics. He was an English Barrister having studied Law at Lincoln’s Inn in London and attended George Washington University, graduating with a Master’s Degree in Environmental and International Law.

Mr. Kalsi was a corporate lawyer with Cummins Engine Company in Columbus, a founding Partner of the International Law practice at Krieg, Devault & Alexander, LLP in Indianapolis, and an Adjunct Professor of International Law at the Indiana University McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis. He contributed to his community through many pro-bono engagements, and service to nonprofit organizations. ISI was fortunate to be among his philanthropic priorities. 

Dear to the hearts of many in our global school community, Mr. Kalsi will be remembered for a deep passion for international education and a commitment to ISI specifically. When the school opened in 1994 it was with 38 students in four grades. Within 6 years the school grew to 400 students in pre-kindergarten through ninth grade.

Much of the credit for the school’s early success and growth can be attributed to Mr. Kalsi’s leadership among a group of pivotal founding directors. Perhaps the greatest result of successfully establishing ISI is that students living in central Indiana now have an opportunity to learn about the world through the understanding of culture, language, geography, history, and current events. Thousands of ISI students have already become globally-minded, successful citizens, including his granddaughters, Sonia DiOrio, ISI Class of 2017, and Maya DiOrio, ISI Class of 2019. Countless more students will too for many decades to come, and this is one of Mr. Kalsi's most enduring legacies.  

The entire ISI community extends our deepest sympathy to Mr. Kalsi's wife of 43 years, Sarla Kalsi, and his family, including three children and six grandchildren.


Dear Friends of ISI,

It is profoundly difficult to use the past tense when writing about Swadesh. I can still hear his joyous laugh and see his smile.

I met him in 1993 while being interviewed for the position of Head of School at ISI. Working closely with him for many years, Swadesh impressed me as always being available, thoughtful, always considerate. In ISI's formative and fragile years, he advised and led. Early on, he had joined the International Task Force volunteering many hours, making valuable contributions given his truly international roots and background and sharing his passion for global education and pedagogy in a dual language setting.

Besides the official role, during the summer of 1994, just before the inaugural school day, Swadesh with Sarla helped in numerous ways, painting and cleaning the 42nd Street school building. Many of us remember Swadesh showing up always impeccably dressed even for the most menial tasks.  

Later on, he came to several school functions bringing wit and charm, giving parents, donors, and prospective participants a sense of the importance ISI represented for the community and the state.  He cared deeply for the success of the institution, volunteering many hours over many years. After the School was established while visiting the buildings or the maisonettes, Swadesh would stop in a classroom enjoying the interaction, offering encouraging words for the students and faculty. He was a profoundly kind man.

While in Indianapolis, in Chicago, and since retirement, Lourdes and I enjoyed a deep friendship with Sarla and Swadesh. They came many summers for a visit to Menton, in the South of France, often accompanied by one of their granddaughters. It was such a pleasure to see the wonderful interaction between the grandfather and the young woman. We all had a wonderful time reminiscing and being together to discuss politics, religion, India, pedagogy, good food and wine.

Swadesh, mon ami, I miss you.


Swadesh Kalsi presents fellow ISI supporter Henry Blackwell with an honorary plaque
at the grand opening of the ISI Henry B. Blackwell Middle School building

Swadesh would stop in a classroom enjoying the interaction, offering encouraging words for the students and faculty. 
He was a profoundly kind man.

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