PSU’s study abroad program in India through SEMB opened my eyes, heart, and mind a bit further than they were before. I was given a firsthand look at how business can promote and be a part of positive social change and development. I witnessed businesses, government, and non-profits building partnerships to seek solutions for a pressing social issues. And, I left India with a more comprehensive understanding of how an idea and passion combined can have tremendous impact on those around you.
This trip also taught me about collaboration, and the how diversifying a learning experience can quadruple the knowledge you take away. Collaborating with students in India had a profound impact on me. Students in both Hyderabad and Bhimavaram joined us as colleagues and interpreters in rural villages. Together we interviewed people in their communities about challenges they face with education, access to clean water, health, etc. Subsequently, they learned something about their own world they did not know. This inspired me to return home, and look around at the situations in which I avoid, ignore, or lack awareness and figure out how I can gain more knowledge simply by asking questions. It showed me how important it is to take the time to engage people in our local communities who are struggling, and pay our education forward by turning our learning into action.
A study abroad experience would not be complete without personal growth. I found my time in India to be personally empowering. I learned more about my strengths, as well as, my weaknesses. I learned what I need to feel balanced, and what beliefs I hold onto about myself that are best let-go.
Finally and once again, I must personally thank the 7 other remarkable colleagues, now dear friends, with whom I traveled. Professionalism, respect, and a positive attitude are not easy to maintain in strenuous settings, with long days and external challenges. However, the right combination of people not only leads to a successful experience, it can create a very dynamic and supportive environment. I think the eight of us made one amazing, cohesive group.
Life has a funny way of bringing people together… for that I am eternally grateful.