Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A student's published op-ed

It’s been nearly a month since 26 honors students at IU’s Kelley School of Business have returned from halfway around the world, Incredible India. But the memories are still fresh as they return for fall classes at IU Bloomington. Many are hearing the stories about the frantic Delhi traffic, India's mushrooming business development and a exotic culture that is millenniums old.

Clara Houin, one of the students you’ve already met along the way, continues to share her recollections. Her article, “Visit to India is a cultural shock; IU student finds a world of contrasts during a 10-day summer program,” appeared in yesterday’s (Sept. 9) South Bend Tribune.

I encourage you to look at her article, which is available online at

It also is pasted below.



Before Aug. 2, I thought I knew all about India. I had studied the languages of Urdu and Hindi for over a year, researched the culture, did group projects on the history and learned what not to eat or drink.

Yet with all this preparation, the country did not cease to surprise me. When I deboarded an eight-hour flight from Brussels, Belgium, to New Delhi, I had the cultural shock of a lifetime. The food, culture, sights and businesses that I experienced more than 7,000 miles around the globe will shape me and my career immeasurably in the years to come.

Indiana University offered a summer program for 26 students of the Kelley School of Business, including myself, who wanted to broaden their horizons to the businesses and culture of India. Our group spent 10 days in India, where we visited many cultural and business locations in and around New Delhi and Chennai and the Taj Mahal.

My first memories in India are a blur of very bright colors and throngs of people. It is very difficult to fully articulate how many people make up the population of India except to say that there is rarely a minute that goes by when one is completely alone.

Our first jet-lagged day in India was spent touring the capital city of New Delhi. We visited the famous war memorial for fallen Indian soldiers, entered several different religious sites and saw government buildings. We toured a Gandhi museum that also was the place where he lived the last 144 days of his life.

It was extraordinarily moving to witness a place where such an inspirational man spent his life.

The following days did not prove any less moving. In India, poverty is an unavoidable part of life, and the dichotomy between the rich and the poor can be very hard to bear. Every day our group was bused around the dirty and crowded streets, and at night we slept in five-star hotels.

All of us felt very humbled, and somewhat saddened, after our first few hours in New Delhi. However, any poor spirits that our group had were lifted on our second day in India when we journeyed seven hours to witness the majesty of the Taj Mahal. It was paradise on earth from the second I stepped into the Taj complex. If ever in India, a visit to see the beautiful white inlaid marble work of the Taj Mahal is a must.

After the first couple days of sight-seeing, our Kelley School group was able to connect with several prominent business and political figures of India. One evening, in New Delhi, we were hosted by a member of the Indian parliament, Deepender Singh Hooda.

While in New Delhi, we also visited the car factory of Maruti-Suzuki and toured one of the newest industrial complexes in India. At all of the locations we were graciously welcomed, and had many of our questions about business practices in India answered.

Following our time in New Delhi, we traveled to Chennai in southern India where we also visited several businesses. These included Allsec and Infosys, two of the most prominent Indian companies to date. Representatives from these prestigious businesses explained more about the operations of call centers and information technology than I have ever known.

In India, I was able to enjoy excellent spicy food, inexpensive shopping, experience a unique culture firsthand, and most importantly broaden my business horizons.

It was a trip that I would recommend to anyone, and one that I will never forget."

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