Sally Boden, Bachelor of Business / Bachelor of Engineering
Short-term program: Reimagining India Experiential Learning Program
India (December 2018)
The experiences, learnings and connections I made on my trip to India through IndoGenius’s Reimagining India Dec 2018 program will stay with me forever. Travelling to India to learn from successful entrepreneurs, top universities, locals, politicians and my peers was such an immense privilege and an honour. The schedule planned by the IndoGenius team was beyond incredible. Every day was filled with content that provided us with different takes on India. In addition to outings and activities, we were taught yoga, Bollywood dance, Hindi and Indian cooking which really helped immerse ourselves and engage with Indian culture. I was privileged to have successfully received the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan funding to participate in this program.
The IndoGenius team who hosted us were inspiring, dedicated and passionate about India. The friendships I made on this trip made such a huge difference to how I was able to enjoy it. Making friends allowed me to share what I saw and learnt, allowing me to reflect at the time on the over-load of information and experience of India, including experiencing eating curries for two weeks! The numerous curries and naan’s I tried were delicious, although some curries were very spicy, and my new favourite dessert is ‘gulab jamun’, a heavenly melt-in-your-mouth doughnut ball soaked in syrup!
From Delhi to Jaipur to Mumbai, the learning and immersion was constant. The first day in Delhi involved the centuries old, Hindu Havan fire ceremony, which was followed throughout the trip by several temple and religious site visits, each one representing a different religion. When comparing the vivid, monumental and constant celebration of worship in India to Australian’s commitment to worship, there is a striking difference, generally, between our core values, resulting in a fundamentally different lifestyle and a bit of a culture shock for me. The temples, forts and mosques we visited were breath-taking architectural achievements, my favourites including the Taj Mahal, Lotus Temple and Amer Fort.
The businesses and start-up companies we visited in all three cities widened my views and awareness as to how India will be the next global super power. From small start-ups to global companies based in India, we witnessed how clever and quickly these companies found solutions to local problems and their passion for helping India move forward, internally and on a global scale, was impressive. Several Indian companies are now aiming to move towards environmentally friendly solutions. I was shocked at how bad the pollution levels were in India, to the point of physically feeling the smog in the early morning and at night. An unexpected highlight of the trip for me was our tour through the Dharavi Slum in Mumbai. Walking through narrow, odorous, dark and dirty alleyways and peering into resident’s small abodes provided me a true insight into their lifestyle. Whilst the living conditions were substandard compared to Western living, Dharavi boasted a strong community feel in both the residential and industrial sections of the Slum. Dharavi receives over 70% of all rubbish in Mumbai and recycles majority of it to reduce the exorbitant amount of waste that is produced in Mumbai. I have my doubts as to whether many Westerners would be able to work the same 16 hour days in the same conditions as the locals.
This study tour exceeded all my educational expectations. The personal, academic and professional growth I experienced during my time in India was unlike any other growth I’ve ever experienced in a two-week period. The benefit of immersion into another culture to gain insight proved wholly engaging and educational. I would love to travel back to India one day to continue exploring and experiencing India’s incredible landscapes, people, food and culture.