Our Learning Management Coordinator, Paula Smith, attended our field-based course in India in January. See what she has to say about the experience!
Why did you attend this field-based course on the Gandhian Method?
I was thrilled to have the opportunity to attend the Gandhi course in India. I work with the Future Generations certificate program, so I’ve helped to plan and manage this course in years past, but it was such a rewarding experience to be there in person and see all the hard work come together for a great learning experience. It helped to give me insight on how to coordinate the student experience even better going forward.
What was your favorite part of the experience?
My favorite part was visiting and touring the Taj Mahal. I’ve always seen pictures and heard about it, but being able to physically be there was just amazing. I must say that pictures definitely do not do it justice. We were lucky enough when we were visiting that they had just completed a cleaning, so it was as clean as most people will ever see it.
What surprised you the most about India?
How friendly the locals are! Whenever we were walking, people would stop and make conversation with us, asking questions about what we were visiting for and learning about. Although there was a language barrier because I don’t speak Hindi (the most common language spoken in India), I could feel the curiosity when trying to translate. I was surprised to learn that English is taught in most schools, so we were able to communicate best with school-age children.
What do you feel like you took away from your time there?
Looking back, I the biggest thing I learned is that even when people there have next to nothing, they still want to give. It was kind of a contrast between there and here. Americans can be greedy with their money, even though most Americans make lots of it; they often don’t want to help those in need.
It was also nice to be able to take back my learning experiences to my friends and family so they can hopefully better understand how to make a positive change in today’s world.
Follow up: How has it influenced/strengthened your work?
Attending the India field-based course has strengthened my work because I got to meet the students that I’m in contact with all the time. It’s such a different feeling, being able to meet the students face-to-face, rather than just simply chatting with them via email. This is the reason that our field-based courses set us apart form other schools that use online platforms. We know the value in connecting in-person. I also feel that this has strengthened my work because I can now see the direct impacts that our certificate and master’s program have on people’s lives.