Halfway Point

Reflections (the personal)

Our time in the village area of Bhimavaram has come to a close.  There have been two tracks running simultaneously while we have been here – what I will call the personal and the educational – and at times it’s been difficult to manage the two.  This is simply a struggle we face in life; work[school]-life balance, personal growth vs. professional growth, however you want to phrase it, here on this trip it feels like a similar struggle, just in a completely new context.

  • The personal: This layer is about the experience.  It has encompassed so many things, including soaking up the language, culture, food, and sights, remembering to take photos and buy gifts, trying to stay physically healthy, taking the time to talk to the people we meet, appreciating the gracious Indian hospitality that we have been met with, spending time getting to know our group mates better, managing team dynamics   and so much more.
  • The educational: In the midst of everything, in the end we are here to complete 8 credits.  6 days from now we present on 2 consulting projects.  From now until then, there is work to be done.  So much about field work is challenging: honing in on the right questions to ask, hearing conflicting information, compounded by language barriers. Some of us have noted how field work is a new way of learning for us, and certainly different than what is included in the typical MBA curriculum.  I feel the pressure to deliver in a short period of time, and a fear of failing to meet expectations or disappointing our hosts at Byrraju.

Since I’ve started the MBA program, the pull between these two has been a new-found daily struggle for me. I tend toward sacrificing my personal time, friendships, or enjoyment in the name of school or work. India is good for me because it lends itself well to being spontaneous, and experiential.  Flexibility and risk-taking are essentially forced and I remind myself that by focusing on the personal, the educational will in fact be enhanced.

Water Project (the educational)

At the Byrraju water plant in the village of Jinnuru

Katie and I were assigned Byrraju Foundation’s water project for our mini consulting project.  We spent Thursday and Friday developing questions and speaking with customers and non-customers in 3 different villages in order to assess where there may be areas of improvement for the program.  As it turns out, there are some interesting perceptions about what constitutes clean drinking water in these villages:  We found while some believe the government water provided for free causes health problems such as colds, coughs, and leg pains, others believe that purified Byrraju water causes these same problems.   My previous assumption that everyone would prefer purified drinking water if it was free and accessible was shattered. Answers only lead to more questions.  I am very much looking forward to continuing to work with Katie on this project as well as our project for Tom’s shoe donation program this week!

Alison drinking Byrraju water, sending a strong message to all those who witnessed!


3 thoughts on “Halfway Point

  1. Well said, Jude. I completely agree that this trip is forcing me away from my tendencies to focus 95% of my time and efforts of school/work and to leave little time for personal use and reflection. I really appreciate the reminder that focusing on the personal on this trip will only help to better the educational experience.

  2. Thanks for sharing the pic of me sampling the Byrraju Foundation filtered water Jude, and for acknowledging the message it sends. Thanks also for modeling work/life balance, and for sharing your struggles and goals in this area out loud. These practices also send strong messages about what holistic leadership looks like in action.

    1. A toast to your continued health and happiness, dear Alison. You make me proud because of the way you balance your heart and your head, always keeping your eyes and ears open and alert for new life lessons.

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