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The Gem Beneath the Frustration

In the Spring of 2018, Truman traveled to Stockholm, Sweden with five other students to participate in a global consulting project for BSH Northern Europe. Here is his view on teamwork, from the classrooms to the offices of Europe’s biggest home appliance makers.

You know that feeling, when your chin hits your chest. You let out a deep sigh and think to yourself, not again. That was me every time I walk into class, and the professor announces another group project. As my professor explains the instructions in the background, I would often wonder what is the purpose of these stupid projects. The assignments rarely related to my major, and my teammates were often in different fields of study. However, as a result of this global work experience, I recognized the true value of those seemingly, useless projects.

Through Ohio State’s Global Projects Program, I spent May of 2018 in Stockholm, Sweden working on a global consulting project for BSH Northern Europe. Before departing for Sweden, and being the impatient person that I am, I dove head first, alone, into the project. I conducted research and ideated solutions, all without consulting my team. When we finally arrived in-country, I felt confident that I knew exactly what to do. Discussing the project scope with my team, I realized I had the wrong idea from the start, and most of the work I had done beforehand was obsolete.

I was disheartened by this realization, but was happy to catch the issue early on. Beyond readjusting my interpretation of the scope, I discovered the true value of working on a team. Through constant communication among teammates, we were able to keep each other on track. Whether it be a mental block or a lack of motivation, my team provided me the much-needed push to continue. Although it felt slow at times discussing every idea with one another, it turned out to be extremely valuable because our biggest breakthroughs came from these discussions. Once everyone adjusted to the team’s workflow, we were performing very efficiently.

It was also very surprising to see BSH’s emphasis on collaboration. Throughout the entire project, we were constantly having meetings with different people in the company. Every week there were meetings with entire departments to discuss current and future initiatives. Everyone seemed to be aware of what people across the organization was doing, from within the Sweden office to the headquarters in Germany.

My biggest takeaway from the four week in-country project experience is that teamwork and collaboration make for great work. Looking back at all those dreaded group projects throughout the years, I can now understand why they was such a point of emphasis by our teachers and professors. The lessons those projects provided were more on the soft skills of working with others than the actual application of whatever concept was taught.

It is easy to fall into the trap of working alone, especially when you can finish the work faster without your team. Putting the frustration aside, it is almost always better to have someone catch your missteps or disagree with your idea. With this newly instilled mentality on teamwork, I look forward to working with others on future works.

Lets Go to New Zealand

Hey, my name is Kaleb Miller, and I traveled to New Zealand in May through the Global Projects Program at the Fisher School of Business!

Disclaimer: This is my first international trip and pretty much my like 5th time in an airplane… ya boy is small town baby!

Now, let’s get started

I can talk about tips and tricks for travel, things to know before travel, and the food, but I think that would be a lackluster portrayal of what you gain when going on an international trip for the first time. I want to tell you about my experiences, my memories, and what I got out of this trip. You can read about tips, tricks, and yummy New Zealand food all over the internet!

My experience was a fun one. I met some really cool people, had a blast at work with people who really wanted us to enjoy their country and show us all the great stuff it had to offer, and of course got this kind of individual look into myself and what made me tick… meaning I mean what am I actually passionate about? I think that big question is something college kids really fear, so I want to emphasize it.

Meeting people… the best part of the trip. See, I am a people person. Give me a chance and I will talk your ear right off, and so that is what I did in New Zealand. Now I have stories of hanging out in Queenstown, New Zealand waiting to go to on a tour of one of the 8th wonders of the world, Milford Sound, while I have fish and chips with individuals and new friends from Germany, Ireland, and Italy… and I met them all in one night! I will always cherish how nice of a country this was for me to see the world for the first time via travel.

My company… I cannot tell you guys how much we lucked out with working for a company like Auckland Transport. Our team of supervisors and employees we worked with allowed us to have tangible project experience through taking on an issue with lost property on trains, and presenting the research and findings to their Board of Directors to eventually roll out to their entire transportation network (bus, train, bike, ferry, etc.) We met the best people who really helped us transition easily into the work culture of New Zealand. They wanted us to have a blast, and I really appreciated that from them. They understood the situation! How many times will I be back to New Zealand maybe in my life? (I hope at least once, let’s pray for my financial advances…ALL of our financial advances!!)

I think the theme here is that the decision to go somewhere internationally only gets harder as you get older… so do it now! Start saving the pennies because it is an experience you will always cherish. Making friends with a small group for a month in a country of your choosing (from a list obviously, but so many options), learning about cultures like New Zealand or wherever you may go gives you a view you previously did not have. Looking more into the big picture of business decisions as you progress through your career. That is what I hope you do with this trip!

All in all, this trip should show you a few things about yourself. It will test your strengths and weaknesses, especially in communications with others. My advice is to jump right in, be excited about your opportunity, and understand how lucky you are to really have the option to go abroad for educational purposes and business experience at The Ohio State University. Engage in conversations with people whenever you can on your trip. Soak up the knowledge, and use it to grow your career and relationships with others. Make your views worldly instead of just about yourself. Do that, and people, you will be on the right path to a fabulous life experience.

Business as Usual in Vienna

As a junior marketing student, Lindsey Murphy and three other business students traveled to Vienna, Austria for the Global Projects Program where they worked as marketing consultants for Andritz. With locations worldwide, Andritz is a globally leading supplier of plants, equipment, and services for hydropower stations, the pulp and paper industry, the metalworking and steel industries, and for solid/liquid separation in the municipal and industrial sectors as well as for animal feed and biomass pelleting. Lindsey is writing about her expectations of doing business in Austria and how her experience compared to those beliefs.

Having never traveled out of the country before, I was both extremely nervous and excited to not only experience a new culture but also to consult for a global company. I arrived at the airport ready for my 10 hour flight not knowing what to expect when I arrived in Vienna. I read, and re-read, all of the information I had acquired on doing business and interacting in Austria to try and prepare myself for the next month.

The first couple days were filled with lots of exploration and games to become familiar with the city and learn how to navigate around it. After three days of nonstop walking, and a few delayed flights for one of our group members, we all gathered the night before our first day of work to compile a list of questions we had about our project and discuss everything we learned on conducting business in Austria.

Previously, I had worked as a data entry specialist for an ambulance company, so I already had some office experience. However, the other girls in my group were new to the scene. We went in for our first day at Andritz ready for it to be a completely different environment than we would see in America, but what we received was something else.

Apparently, no matter where you are in the world, business is business. Professionals dress the same, act the same, interact the same, react the same, and the only difference is the language that is spoken. We fell into a rhythm at Andritz and became comfortable with our surroundings almost instantly. We came in every day, walked straight to our conference room, and continued our market research. It was easy to schedule appointments to speak with others in the office and everyone was eager to help us if we needed anything.

Our research into business etiquette of Austria was almost all wrong. We read that the people were not very friendly, blunt, strict, and workaholics. In contrast, the people at Andritz were very welcoming, friendly, and not quite as blunt as we thought they would be. While they do seem to love working, they also understand that there is life outside of work and will take time off or leave early to have some fun. I found it is best not to rely 100% on the stereotypes of countries and to just experience them myself!

The differences between Austria and the United States was more prevalent when out and about around town. As college students, we are used to very casual dress. To class, many girls wear leggings or yoga pants and boys wear sweatpants or shorts. In Vienna, there were very few people who dressed that way. They definitely were more fashion conscious and spent more time on their appearance.

If I had the choice, I would absolutely go back to Vienna to work or even just to visit. I loved everything about the city. The buildings were beautiful, there was history at every corner, and the people were just as friendly as they are here in America. It was a pleasant surprise to see that the business environment is not much different than it is here in America. The biggest difference between Austria and America was the way everyone dresses, and it was actually pretty nice being in a place where everyone dresses nice.

Nature Lovers, Thrill Seekers, and Bookworms Alike: This Place is For You

Kelly Franz shares her experiences living and traveling in New Zealand with seven other Fisher students as part of the Global Projects Program.

As if traveling 8,000 miles away from home isn’t scary enough, imagine traveling with seven other people you just met. That’s exactly what we did on the Fisher Global Projects Program to New Zealand, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Each person on our trip had unique personalities, which allowed us to connect with people we normally wouldn’t, and get to know them better. It also gave us the opportunity to explore New Zealand in the ways we had each individually dreamed about.

During the work week, our group of eight split into two teams: one consulting for Auckland Transport, and the other for the American Chamber of Commerce. But at night and on the weekends, our group reconnected, and we were always looking for the next adventure. New Zealand was perfect for group because much like the unique personalities that made up our team, New Zealand provided a diverse set of options on how to spend our free time. For the thrill seekers, we traveled to Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world.

For the foodies, we participated in a traditional Hangi dinner at a Maori village, and endulged in lamb every chance we got. For the bookworms, we traveled to Hobbiton, the set of the Lord of the Rings. For the nature enthusiasts, we cruised the Milford Sound and hiked a volcano. For the sports fans, we went to a rugby game. And for those who just to relax, we spent a day in natural hot springs at the Relaxation Spa. These are just of the few amazing experiences we had, but it shows how willing our group was to explore outside of their general comfort zone, and as a result, we were all truly able to immerse ourselves in the Kiwi culture.

Personally, and likely for our entire group, my favorite part of the trip was our weekend excursion to Queenstown. Queenstown is the most beautifulplace I have ever been to, and definitely one of the most beautiful places in the world. When we were landing, the whole plane was silent as everyone was in awe of the snow-capped mountains and the glistening water all around. At the same time, there were endless things to do. In one day, I did the Shotover Jet through narrow canyons, went horseback riding through fields and rivers while being surrounded by the mountains, and went straight up a mountain on the Skyline Gondola to stargaze and see the Milky Way. Others chose to hike, bike ride, kayak, and shop, to name a few other options. We each spent our first day a bit differently, but the following day, we all joined up again to take a cruise through the Milford Sound. The bus ride there was six hours, but we saw farms of lambs, deer, and cows, beaches, rainforests, glaciers, mountains, snow, the Pacific Ocean, and the Tasman Sea. As a whole, this weekend allowed me to form stronger friendships with my peers, channel my independence in seeking out the opportunities most appealing to me, and realize just how beautiful Earth can be.

Without the group I traveled with, I never would have had such an incredible experience. Traveling on trips like those to Queenstown or Rotorua allow you to grow close with new friends, understand different perspectives and personalities, and find interests you never knew you had. If ever presented the opportunity to do a program like this again, I would jump on it right away. I learned so much about myself, others, and different cultures of the world. Now, when I return to Ohio State after break, I look forward to seeing more familiar faces in Fisher, and remembering the great memories we made and all that we learned about the world during our month abroad.

Never Stop Exploring in Nepal

After traveling to Kathmandu for two weeks in May 2018, rising junior Matthew Bonner writes about his experiences exploring the cultural sites of Nepal.

Kathmandu is a city full of dramatic histories and a rich cultural past. The Kathmandu Valley is divided into three cities itself: Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur. Our group was lucky enough to partake in historic walking tours of all three cities to fully experience the vibrant areas. After we landed in Kathmandu late on Saturday night after an arduous flight, we attempted to beat the jet lag and embark on a ten hour walking tour of the sights of Kathmandu and Patan. We saw various Hindu and Buddhist temples, learning more about the two main religions of Nepal.

As we walked through the bustling streets of Kathmandu we passed ancient temples, juxtaposed with new apartment complexes under construction across the street. As we strolled through Patan Durbar Square, the ancient palace of the King of Patan and city hub, snapping photos and listening to our local guide, locals hung out around the square chatting and praying, going on with their normal lives. Often in the United States, art and culture is thought of as something that needs to be meticulously preserved under sheets of bullet proof glass or barricades. However, in Nepal the ancient temples and palaces have evolved with the people as Nepal finds its place in the 21st century. The famous architecture and temples are not things that are simply put on pedestals in museums for tourists to observe, rather Nepali citizens interact with these historic pieces on a daily basis, as they are directly woven into their culture and heritage.

One of our groups’ favorite stops on the walking tour was the Swayambhunath Temple in Kathmandu. The temple is one of the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage sites and sits atop a hill with beautiful views of the Kathmandu Valley. Additionally, the temple is known as the “Monkey Temple” in Kathmandu due to its numerous inhabitants. It was an added challenge to climb the steps up to thetemple while fending off monkeys from stealing our phones, cameras, and water bottles. The stupa consists of a dome at the base with the eyes of Buddha looking out in all four directions. The two eyes of Buddha represent wisdom and compassion. In addition, the third eye above the two symbolizes the enlightenment that Buddha obtained. Below the two eyes, the curly nose-looking question mark, is the Nepali symbol for “one”. The symbol represents the unity of all things and the only path to enlightenment through the teaching of Buddha.

Getting the chance to explore the Kathmandu valley after work and on our weekends was truly an amazing opportunity to learn about a different culture and people. From the Swayambhunath Temple to learning to cook traditional Nepalese food through a cooking class, the cultural excursions were experiences are group was excited to be a part of and helped us learn more about the rich heritage of Nepal.

Top Tricks N’ Tips

Follow along with Madeline Lake as she discusses her tips and tricks for traveling to India that she learned while traveling to through the Non Profit Global Projects Program.

For 2 Weeks in May 2018, myself and three other fisher Students traveled to Kochi, Kerala, India through Fisher’s Non Profit Global Projects Program. We worked with Raksha Society, a school for students with disabilities, to transform their current paper-bag-making unit into a profitable, efficient business. This experience was unlike any of my previous experiences and as a result I learned so many new lessons. Here is my list of tips and tricks for anyone who is traveling to India!

  1. Apply for your Visa as far in advance as possible!

While none of us had any issues obtaining our e-visas or getting in or out of the country with our visas, some people we met in-country told us stories of other students who had to delay their trip by 2 weeks because their visa application hadn’t gotten approved yet. APPLY EARLY!!!

  1. Get shots and vaccinations ahead of time.

This is something I didn’t do far enough in advance. Some vaccinations require a certain amount of time to get the full dosage. While some of my peers just took a pill for a week leading up to our trip, I had to get a shot because I didn’t go to the doctor’s office far enough in advance, and therefore the simple pills wouldn’t be effective.

  1. Exchange currency before you leave

This was another big mistake I made. Some currencies, such as rupees, aren’t as popular as other currencies, such as the euro. Because of this, depending on your bank, they may have to order currency for you ahead of time. As the procrastinator I am, I waited until the last possible minute to go the the bank to exchange my currency. I was out of luck when I went to the bank and they told me they couldn’t have that amount of rupees available by the time I left. I was stuck exchanging my currency at the airport in New Delhi, where the rates aren’t very good and you don’t get as many rupees. They can also charge high service fees depending on where you go! Again, plan ahead of time and exchange currency early!

  1. Understand how long it takes to physically travel to India!

On the way there, I was in an airport or on a plane for 33 hours. On the way back, it was closer to 27 hours. There’s also a 9.5 hour time difference (or 10.5 from my hometown, St. Louis MO!) the travel was LONG but worth it.

 

  1. Ensure that your clothes are respectful and appropriate.

In Kochi, leggings are rarely appropriate, unless you wear a long shirt over them that reaches around the knee area and covers your butt. Additionally, females must cover their knees and shoulders. Myself and the 2 other girls each made the mistake of bringing at least one pair of pants that had slits on the side that went a little too far up and made our pants a little too flowy… we used safety pins at the thigh and knee to ensure we respected their norms and culture for clothing. Additionally, make sure you pack for the weather! We went during a rainy season and it poured almost every night on our walk home. Bring umbrellas and shoes you don’t mind getting dirty!

When we took our Weekend trip to Munnar, we all wanted to wear comfortable leggings for our hike and tour of the tea museum. We had to make sure we wore shirts that were a bit longer than what we might usually wear to show respect to their culture and norms.

  1. Don’t be afraid to try new food

Before I left, I was pretty worried that I wouldn’t like the food. When I arrived, I was definitely proven wrong. I tasted almost everything and ended up loving it all. Some of my favorites were Paneer, Gobi 65, and all the different types of breads.

Here is a photo of the paneer we made during our cooking class! Paneer is a type of cheese that doesn’t melt that is common in India.

  1. Realize how much diversity exists within India (people, geography, climate, etc)

In Kochi, most people were either Christian, Hindu, or Muslim. Each of these religions are so different but the way they coexisted and meshed with eachother was incredible. Additionally, when we first flew into India it looked very dry and like a desert but once we got to Kochi it was so green and lush but very hot and humid. When we traveled to Munnar tea plantations over the weekend, it was still green and lush but it was also very cool and relaxing.

Here is a photo from Kochi! We were right next to the water and the weather was extremely hot and humid. It rained heavily nearly every night! Kochi was very green and lush. We had layovers in Mumbai and New Delhi and we could see from the plane that the land was very dry and dusty.

This photo is from our weekend trip to Munnar Tea Plantations. The weather was much cooler than Kochi and a lot less rainy.

  1. Have an open mind.

The culture in India is so different from anywhere I have ever traveled (the US, Mexico, Dominican Republic, France, Canada) but being open to learning about differences in your own culture and the culture of the country you visit is so important. Without an effort to understand another culture, there will be no teamwork, cohesion, or collaboration. In the end, we were able to collaborate so well with Raksha and overcome our cultural differences because both parties were open to learning about and understanding the culture and norms of the other party. This made our work a success!!

I could go on and on about tips for traveling to India but this is a great list to get you started. Most importantly, wherever you travel, be open to new experiences and don’t restrict yourself by being afraid of different cultures. Embrace it and learn, that’s how you’ll grow!

Game. Set. Match.

Rising Junior Tuhina Bhatt talks about her visit to the iconic All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club where the Grand Slam tennis tournament Wimbledon is played while in England for the Fisher Global Projects Non-Profit Program.

After I found out I would be participating in Fisher’s Global Projects Non-Profit Program in the United Kingdom, I was ecstatic with the opportunity to consult a nonprofit, but also to explore all that England had to offer. I have been a tennis fanatic all my life, and automatically the first item on my trip bucket list became to visit the All England Tennis and Croquet Club. This is where the famous Grand Slam tournament Wimbledon is played.

The goal to visit Wimbledon fell to the back of my mind until one day when I noticed that the underground tube stop for the tennis club was only a few short stops away from where we lived. After I noticed that, I knew it wouldn’t be just an item on my bucket list, but I had no reason not to go. As we entered our second and last week of our trip, I asked my group if anyone was interested in going. I am a planner, and I wanted to have the train times, tickets, and other logistics figured out. Through discussion, I found myself alone in wanted to visit the tennis club. We had a free day where we could explore the city as we wished. Many took this day to visit places pertaining to their passions such as visiting a contemporary art museum, and I set out for live my childhood dream.

The tennis club was a short walk from the Wimbledon train stop. I was smiling all throughout the walk like a kid on Christmas morning, but I still vividly remember when I turned the corner and smelled the iconic Wimbledon grass. It sounds silly, but that grass is a famous symbol of the tournament. I ran up to the entrance and walked in. I went to where the tour of the grounds starts and to my surprise, I was the only one in that tour group! It was super cool having a personal tour of Wimbledon.

Some of the highlights of the tour were being able to sit in the press room where the players sit after matches, seeing where the various media platforms sit to broadcast the tournament, and visiting Centre Court. It was surreal seeing those courts. I thought to myself “That’s the court where Isner played the record match in 2010!” or “That’s where Rafa climbed up to hug his family after his first Wimbledon win in 2008!”. Something I learned which I did not know before was that Wimbledon recently started a wheelchair tournament which is incredible!

After the tour, I was free to visit the museum individually. The museum had the history of tennis, croquet, and the tournament. Wimbledon is unique because it is not hosted by any association or country, but rather a private tennis club. The facilities are used all year long by members. Another neat fact is to become a member, it isn’t a matter of money, but a love of the sport. All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club’s application process is based on the contribution to the sport. Many members volunteer at after school tennis programs or are coaches. The highlight of the museum was seeing the trophies. I stood in front of the cases in awe for a long time. It was cool to see the bite marks from when some players bite the trophy after winning.

The grounds were already going through preparation for the tournament in July. My tour guide told me about the extensive ballot process to get tickets to the tournament. While it is a difficult process I know I will be back again for to watch tennis and eat strawberries and cream!

Crafting a Connection

Rising junior Alec Feldstein shares his experience with the Global Projects Program Non-Profit in London, where he was able to help facilitate a connection between Soles4Souls and one of the largest translation companies in the world.

Not every company puts an emphasis on CSR, or Corporate Social Responsibility, but finding one who prioritizes it helps to remind us about all the good that business can do.

During the first 2 weeks of May 2018, I traveled with a group of 10 other students to London as part of the Fisher Global Projects Program Non-Profit. Our team worked with Soles4Souls, a non-profit who aims to disrupt the cycle of poverty by providing shoes to local entrepreneurs who can then sell them to provide for their families, as well as distribute shoes for free in disaster relief. We were split into two groups, one who was tasked with finding a warehouse space for Soles4Souls to collect shoes in, and one who was tasked with finding interested organizations to set up collection campaigns with in the UK. I was a part of the collection campaign team, and was personally in charge of finding companies who might be interested in holding a Soles4Souls drive.

After months of build up, we had emailed hundreds of organizations, but were finding it tough to get people to respond to us. I had spoken to a family member who had known of thebigword, one of the largest translation companies in the world, and offered to put me in touch with them. After hearing about what Soles4Souls was all about, they were immediately interested in helping the cause, and wanted to learn more about how they could set up a shoe drive. They invited us to their office in Leeds, so that we could discuss the collaboration further.

The collection team set out for Leeds with only a few days remaining on the trip, and without any expectation of how this meeting would go. After a little more than two hours on the train, we arrived in the city of Leeds, England’s 8th largest city with a metro population slightly larger than that of Seattle. Upon arriving at their office, we were greeted with big smiles and a welcome sign on the tv behind the reception desk! It was great to see their excitement to meet with us, and the energy was reciprocated by everyone on our team.


We sat down and discussed a number of items, talking about all of our backgrounds, learning more about the people we were meeting with, and discussing more about their intentions to work with Soles4Souls and what they needed from us. After getting on the same page, we were shown a tour of their office, where we learned more about the company and the services that they offer. We all had an amazing experience, and by the end of our two hour meeting we were all thrilled with how it had went. They were looking to hold their drive in the beginning of June, with the potential to hold recurring drives in coming years and had even offered use of their translation software to Soles4Souls.

It was an amazing experience getting to meet with thebigword, and an even better experience to have helped to set up such a large shoe drive for Soles4Souls. With over 400 employees at their Leeds HQ alone, they should be able to donate hundreds of pairs of shoes! This experience was everything I could have asked for from the Global Projects Program Non-Profit, as I not only had an amazing experience learning about the company, but was also able to foster a meaningful connection. Everyone from thebigword was very friendly and excited to be able to support such a great cause. While even without this experience I would have been happy with my project, our trip to Leeds helped cement this meaningful experience and should help me in my future endeavors, both professional and philanthropic!

The Food of Kerala

Traveling to Kochi, Kerala, India during the first two weeks of May in 2018 for the Fisher College of Business Global Projects Non-Profit, junior Joseph Armanini describes his eating experiences in and around the southwestern coastal city of Kochi and its state of Kerala.

I had not eaten Indian food till I was a senior in high school. I enjoyed Indian food but I did not have the great fondness of it until after I visited India. Being introduced to the variety, history, and reasoning why the food tastes the way it does in southern India made me appreciate the gastronomy of the region to a higher level.

For our first meal while on location in India, the team went to Elite Kitchen and Bakery. We were seated on the top level in a covered roof area and were able to watch the customary evening storms roll in as we dined. The initial item that was brought to the table was lime soda and I was immediately in love with it (I later found out, you can get lime soda almost anywhere in Kochi). The lime soda was freshly made by our hosts with a multitude of fresh limes that were likely picked that day. It is the perfect beverage for Kochi’s tropical climate of 90% humidity and 95-degree days.

Next to arrive at the table was the myriad flatbreads and curries. The flatbreads consisting of roti, chapati, and parotta. The curries varied from being tomato, spinach, and lentil based or diverse types of curried potatoes. And of course, lots and lots and lots of rice. Between the myriad flatbreads and rice served with every meal while in India, I believe I could never eat a carb again and avoid ketosis.

As the days went on we had many meals which were all great but one thing kept popping up at a majority of the meals. It was this spicy red goop that was tangy and had a peculiar crunch to it. Everyone on the team despised it but me. Halfway through the program I finally learned it was just called “Pickle”, my preferred “Pickle” of choice was the lime pickle, which consisted of chunks of lime in the concoction. It was my condiment of choice for my carb loading while in India. It provided the perfect punch of heat and odd tanginess from the vinegar to go with a wide range of foods.

By far my favorite meal of the trip was at the weekend when we went on ourexcursion to Munnar, Kerala where the tea plantations are in the mountains. This meal was particularly spectacular because of the scenery, who made it, and the uniqueness of the meal. The scenery was the surrounding tea plantation and a small cottage where the family that owns the homestay for the weekend lives. The meal was prepared by the family who owned the homestay and Das, who was our driver, personal tour guide, renaissance man, and our friend. Lastly, the meal consisted of a banana curry, lentil curry, mustard seed potatoes, chicken and paneer, and beats. I also must not forget, basmati rice and chapatis were served with all this. The banana curry blew my mind, it was something I had never tasted before and it was not made from the banana itself but rather the seed pod that is at the end of the banana tree. Overall, the meal took me on rollercoaster of flavors from paneer to beats and then to banana.

Towards the last day of our trip, we went to an Indian cooking class at a woman’s house. The woman, Maria, taught us about the differences between Northern and Southern Indian food, why the food in Southern India uses different ingredients for the same dish, and the reasoning behind the ingredients used. For example, in Southern India they use much more coconut oil and milk as opposed to vegetable oil and cream in the north. She taught us that almost every ingredient has a purpose beyond taste and food is medicine. Outside of teaching us how to cook and aiding us in creating a spectacular meal, Maria made me appreciate the food I had eaten for the past two weeks on a higher understanding other than, “Wow, this tastes phenomenal.”

The food was highlight for me because it reflects where you are in the world and how the people feel about themselves in my opinion. The food will be greatly missed as most Indian restaurants in the United States are northern Indian. On the brighter side of things, I did find lime pickle at a store and lime soda is fairly simple to recreate but I am not and probably will not be able to recreate any of the food I had while in India. The food I ate enhanced my experience to another level, broadened my horizons, and helped me connect more with the people I was with on the program whether they loved or hated the food (for me it was 100% love but I cannot speak for everyone).

More than a School

Kate Baughman participated in the Global Projects Program Non- Profit in Kochi, India working with Raksha Society and its vocational unit.

My adventure to Kochi, India was extremely humbling, eye-opening, and rewarding. It was amazing having the opportunity to work with the GVI team and Raksha Schools’ students and staff.

Raksha Society is a school for special needs students in Kochi, India. They have students of all ages and ability. We worked specifically with the vocational unit; which was started to give 18+ students the ability to learn a skill or trade to begin earning revenue for themselves and their families. In India, disabled students are often seen as a burden to schools and businesses. Many schools do not allow anyone with even a minor learning disability to attend because it lowers the competitiveness of their school. It is also very uncommon for disabled people to be married; which is a huge part of Indian culture. Raksha and the vocational unit have the ultimate goal to give these students the education and skills to eventually “send them out” (as Elizabeth, the principal of Raksha School, would say) into the community to work.

The vocational unit of the school has sub units, some including paper bag making, carpentry, tailoring, cooking, and data entry. We worked specifically with the paper bag unit to streamline a business plan for them to follow and eventually transfer and implement to the other units.

The first time we visited Raksha School, I was very nervous for my team and I’s first meeting with Elizabeth. I wanted to make sure that the project we had already begun and would continue to work on was exactly what she wanted and needed. It was very hard to understand the general environment and small cultural differences just from communicating over the phone that would later be important details to consider for our project timeline. For example, we didn’t think of how long our presentation would take considering the time it took to translate from English to Malayalam. We also didn’t consider the 20-minute daily Chai breaks (which we all always looked forward to) that came around 3 PM.

I also wanted to make sure that Elizabeth knew we were there to support her and her goals for the school. A fancy business plan that requires advanced technology and unnecessary measures would have been completely useless to her. In other words; she needed to know that her goals were ours.

After the first meeting with Elizabeth and meeting the rest of the staff and students, I felt extremely welcomed and grateful to work with them. The faculty and staff at Raksha choose to work there because of the positive and family oriented environment, despite earning almost little to no salary at all. Elizabeth’s main goal was to help the students make more revenue for themselves, even if that meant lowering her own salary and taking on more expenses as a school.

 

They are truly a family.

My favorite memory from our project was our first time meeting the students. The moment we walked into the room their faces lit up with the most wide and genuine smiles. We had not even introduced ourselves but I have never felt so welcomed into a community that knew nothing about me or where I came from.

The students took the time to show us how to make the paper bags, which I failed at the first few times. (It is a lot harder than it looks!) This was a special moment because it reminded me that I had just as much, if not more, to learn from the students than they ever could from me.

 

Leaving India was extremely hard. I had met so many amazing people and had great experiences. One thing the Indian culture taught me was the value of family. The family unit is so important to every aspect of life, and I want to take that back with me and implement it into my own life.

This trip also made me realize that in my professional career, I hope to find a company that values its people and community over just making a profit. Elizabeth taught me the importance of this when she was willing to sacrifice her own income for that of her students. For me, meeting my career and professional goals won’t be to just attain a C suite status or a have a huge salary, rather more importantly ending up in a role that I can find my purpose and have a reason to get up and go to work every day.